ATLANTA - A lack of financial controls has cost Atlanta $2.3 million in federal grants and left managers unable to gauge the city's day-to-day financial status, say two recent critiques obtained by an Atlanta newspaper.
Among items cited in the critiques, or "management letters," are billing records kept by hand on index cards at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and the city water department's use of only one employee to collect millions in unpaid water bills last year.
During the past two years, the city has been forced to return nearly $2.3 million in federal grants for sewer upgrades because it couldn't prove how the money was spent, the newspaper said Friday.
A letter that was supposed to come with an audit of the city's 1995 spending warned of the lack of an effective monitoring system, the newspaper said. The letter said personnel in charge of tracking grants didn't know of a $9.4 million federal grant to repair a sewer trunk or of a $1.2 million federal grant to clean up after Hurricane Opal.
City Council members say that letter didn't get to them until this summer, and a similar report, which was supposed to come with an audit of 1996 spending, reached the council only in the last several weeks.
The latest report points out that Atlanta is only beginning to address the problem that the year 2000 will create in the software of the city's computers, the newspaper said. Other businesses and governments have been working on the problem for years.
The reports were done by Deloitte and Touche LLP, a national accounting firm that audits Atlanta's methods of spending and collecting revenue. Robb Pitts, chairman of the City Council's finance committee, said he received the reports only last month.
The management letters do not allege any wrongdoing.
Mayor Bill Campbell declined to comment.