Paige calls for EDC audit

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At today’s informal  City Council meeting, Councilman Sean Paige will propose a formal city audit of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.

In an email to his colleagues, Paige spelled out his reasons.

“(The EDC) has cumulatively received a lot of taxpayer and ratepayer money over the years, which makes up a sizable portion of its budget, but it has never, as far as I know, been subjected to an independent audit by the city,” he said.

Paige emphasized that while he has no reason to suspect that this money is being misused, he believes that any recipient of this much public money should be open to periodic review, given the obligation to ensure that funds are spent in an appropriate, cost-effective manner.

Questions Paige would like to see addressed include:

  • What specifically is public money used for?
  • Do these uses conform with the uses outlined in annual funding requests from EDC?
  • Are the EDC’s return-on-investment figures accurate?
  • How many jobs are actually created using those funds?
  • Are the jobs credited to EDC activities actually the result of EDC activities?

EDC President Mike Kazmierski said the organization has “bent over backwards” to meet Paige’s request for information.

“(We have provided him) with a copy of the independent audit we have done every year,” he said.  “We provide a copy of our audit to the City Auditor, City Manager and the entire Council and I have made it clear to Sean and the Auditor that they can audit us any time.”

“On a side note,” Kazmierski continued, “why would they redo an independent audit that is already done and paid for by people other than the taxpayers?  Are they going to do a separate (city) audit of any organization they support?  Doesn’t the auditor have enough to do?  An audit normally costs between $6,000 and $8,000 and takes about a week.”

Paige will need to persuade four of his colleagues to support such an audit. The informal council meeting is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today at City Hall.

3 Responses to Paige calls for EDC audit

  1. Completely agree with Mike Kazmierski. As a taxpayer of Colorado Springs, the last thing I want is the city to pay for a redundant audit. If there were reasons to suspect the money EDC receives from the City were being mis-used than of course an audit would be proper. It is well documented that Sean Paige is not an advocate for EDC and that is fine, but to go on a witch hunt with my tax payer money is absurd.

    Eddie Hurt
    August 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

  2. Nothing wrong with a little accountability for public dollars. Those of us working in the non-profit sector have been doing it for years…

    Matt
    August 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  3. City no longer funds EDC at a level that could possibly justify the $8,000.00 expense to have the city run an audit. City is not entirely ‘business-friendly’ and may be more responsible for companies with quality jobs to move to other locations after checking out Colorado Springs which were drawn to the area in the first place by the efforts of the staff at EDC. Keep in mind the EDC is composed of individuals doing the best they can with very limited funds to overcome a bad regional image created in part by city and county policies. These are not people in public office looking at re-election.

    Those areas that are withstanding the economic stagnation and proving economically viable are those which support their economic development specialists. Cities that are doing well have a city-county-business sector who work well together, plan a common strategy and thus have the ability to support the public programs the public desires. In addition, they have a taxpayer base who are willing to support the cost of local government.

    The public complaining while paying only a 7.3 property tax mill levy while cities doing well have a regional property tax rate of from 22 to 33 mills makes all the difference in the world. Wanna be cheap, expect cheap in return.

    If Mr Paige needs targets to take cheap pot shots at, perhaps looking within the city which has absolutely no ability to counter the bad recent press might be a start.

    I would think job one would be for those in leadership positions to quit looking at agencies to criticize and come to the table with a positive agenda – and to develop the spirit if ‘regionalism-coordination-cooperation’ that is talked about and forgotten. All this talk is nothing more than what comes out of the north end of a south bound bull and it is time the city-county come together and start looking for ways to just survive at this point.

    Rick Wehner
    August 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm