Board Packet Review; March 9th, 2021
Remote Meeting Note: Positivity Rates are dropping. Vaccines are increasing. The schools are starting to move toward returning to the in person experience. Our neighboring villages and cities are returning to a hybrid board meeting situation where there is public present in the room with the board during the meeting. Our board continues to be fully remote. I do not believe this is out of abundance of caution, but to avoid the ever increasing public scrutiny of this board's actions. Alas, there are only 2 more planned board meetings before the election.
Discussion regarding Village Financial Reports and New Software Implementation
I assume this will be where Phil "clarifies" and "corrects" things regarding the software implementation and the financials. I also assume that he or our CAO will attempt to call me out as being wrong -- though, it would have been nice had our CAO returned any of my emails or calls over the past months to answer these questions -- but let's find out why I "don't know what I don't know." Before we listen to the explanation, let's make sure we are all super clear on the facts regarding this conversion:
The new software package was not a budgeted expense. Yes, it was approved at the same meeting as the budget, but our highly compensated CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer failed to put the line item in the budget for the new software.
The proposal for the new software included the first year of support, it was called out in the presentation for going with this firm over another one that was listed as being less expensive. From the expenses, we see that we are paying more than the contracted price for the new software -- and it appears that the difference is the price of the support. What's the deal with that?
The CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer has admitted to a board member that there were "reclassifications" and adjustments made during the conversion. I ask shouldn't the board/public be made aware of these? How can we trust financials that are being changed without our knowledge.
She also will claim that there was a set of duplicate journal entries done for September by a "former employee" -- This one is interesting, because 1) it doesn't cover the entire $95K swing in the financial position. 2) But even more interesting the journal entries (and there are many) appear to be duplicated because of a known system issue when the software has to be rebooted or restored. 3) Now, the process SHOULD be that before the financials for a month are ready for board approval, all of the journal entries are printed and signed off on by the Treasurer -- a hard copy signature. If our Treasurer is actually reviewing the details as she should, wouldn't this have been caught? But I doubt we will hear of the lack of process and oversight from Mrs. Trustee Berman and all about how this was a failure on a former employee's part.
In the last meeting, in addition to missing (without explanation) the Cash Balance report, it appears that we are also missing the Debit Card activity for the Village, Debit Card Activity for RedTail, and the Manual Checking for RedTail -- these three have always come out when there is a month end report to approve as they SHOULD be reconciled with the monthly reporting. To me this another indication that these are not "true and correct" as promised by our Village President.
However, most noteworthy is that the approval for the October and November Month End Financials are NOT in this board packet to approve -- which likely really means they are still not ready for review.
1. Request to Approval of Minutes:
a. February 9, 2021 Regular Board Meeting
When will our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer or our new Deputy Clerk (who doesn't work under the purview of an actual clerk -- thus calling into question if she can sign anything) going to post the previously approved minutes?
2. Request Approval of Bill Lists:
a. Accounts Payable Invoices Dates March 10, 2021 in the Amount of $115,764.51
b. Accounts Payable PrePaid Invoices Dated March, 2021 in the amount of $41,518.72
3. Items Removed from Consent Agenda - If Any
Agenda Items for Discussion
4. Motion to accept an Offer to Purchase a Lot at 8732 Shade Tree Circle in the Amount of $22,000
Yay! Awesome. But since Phil and Atty. Smoron failed to answer the question last time, I'm going to ask again. Why did this property have to have a resolution written completely differently than all other ordinances to dispose of village property? I'm actually just curious what made this different than the lots on RedTail that were recently authorized for disposal.
5. Motion to Authorize the Chief Administrative Officer to Execute a Contract for the Purchase of a Lot at 8732 Shade Tree Circle in the Amount of $22,000
6. Motion Authorizing Final Pay Request from Schroeder Asphalt Services to close out the 2020 Maintenance Road Program
A quick review of the project status -- this project is $47,542 over approved costs.
I feel like a broken record, but again, I see a failure of process and out of control spending. This project, approved in July of 2020 not to exceed $160,726.49. During this meeting, we were presented with 8 bids ranging from this low bid to a $225,348.59 on the high side.
The board approved the low bid of $160,726.49.
In October, the CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer went back and asked them to authorize her to spend $4,460 on the Engineering and quotes for the striping, patching, and bike path at Lake and Oakwood. She interestingly notes that this would would be within budget and that it would be coming from the General Fund as it would be replacing work that PW had intended to do.
And the board approved the agreement with HR Green.
Now, what the board never approved was the expense of the bike lane, the patching, and the striping. Nor did our board approve the overage from the original "not to exceed" of $160,726.49. But we've paid it. My understanding is that the CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer can not spend more than $20,000 without board approval.
I can't figure out what the $18,987 payment is for in July 2020, but it was applied to the FY'21 budget and has a notation on it of:
We then paid a bill in November for $187,442.40 -- which appears to be the totals for paving Bard and Beaver Pond, but not the Broadway patching, the striping, and the bike lane. So, the CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer paid $26,715.91 above her "do not exceed" amount, without going to the board for approval -- and from what I can tell, even letting them know. (I get final totals may vary from the original bid, so why was there NO contingency put into the do not exceed number?) Now, she's going back to the board the additional $20,826.93.
The ONLY way that this project isn't grossly over the allocated budget amount is if we take ALL of the Street M/R from the General Fund too and add it to full budget for this project. But remember other things come out of that GL# -- so PW had already spent some of that $35,000 by October of last year and since we don't have updated financials, there's no way to know how over budget this really us, because look:
One thing that's not in this number is the $4,460 for the HR Green proposal that she had approved in October. That she specifically said would come from THIS GL# in the General Fund. So -- is this another typo or just our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer's creative accounting?
7. Motion to adopt New Branding Image for RedTail
We know how I feel about the 'logo' proposed for RedTail. But there are a few facts that I think need to be shared.
a) The bar at RedTail was never refered to as the Hawk's Nest Pub until 2018 when Phil insisted on this. My source? A LONG time employee of RedTail who texted me during the meeting regarding the that statement from Phil.
b) Rebranding campaigns take time and money and should be done with consistency and thoughtfully. Sadly, Phil knows that should he not be re-elected in April, this logo is at risk of going away, so he's going to attempt to bind this village to this ill-conceived logo as what? his legacy?
c) The logo as drawn does not render on the RedTail website well. This change would require some additional site design work to make it even close to consistent -- and that's not even considering the awing, the main signage, and the sign on RedTail and Ackman. Yes, it seems easy to update a logo on a website or some letterhead -- but this is actually a bigger deal and Phil is spending money he hasn't budgeted for a project he wants for no better reason than he wants it.
d) Yes, I read that a sample size of 36 people bought new apparel with the 'new logo' on it -- one can assume that either they already owned the existing logo apparel or that the new apparel was in a style/size they preferred with equal accuracy of this 'study.'
e) Unlike what Phil thinks, the soaring hawk is NOT out dated -- it could be refreshed in colors; but not the soaring hawk image. Logos are about the feelings they evoke and there is a huge difference in a soaring hawk and a striking hawk.
f) Continuing on the costs for a logo change, I have to ask -- will the logo change be as effective at making the course money as repairing the tee boxes or maybe looking at flooding issues around the course? What about focusing your cash on what matters the most to your customers (your customers are golfers, by the way).
But all those facts aside -- he wants this hawk -- great. Watch the budget -- how about you approve it and then also require that you have an approved budget to spend money on it? Wouldn't that seem like a proper way to spend the money to change a logo?
8. Motion Authorizing CAO Smith to Execute N2 Publishing Advertisement Agreement
N2 Publishing is the Lakewood Living Magazine and is owned by residents. It appears that the owners of the magazine have done advertising for RedTail for at least the past few years. What I find interesting is that this comes before the board to approve the same week that a campaign sign goes into their yard for Phil's crew. To quote non-lawyer Trustee Berman -- is there a quid pro quo? Speaking of campaign signs -- as you look around the village, ask yourself how many yards with signs are financially tied to the village. It would be very interesting to see how many of those signs are vendors or recent permit holders or even new property sales.
I got a call from a resident this week who complained that this was "Chicago Style Politics" and maybe we need to remind Phil that this isn't Chicago.
9. Motion Authorizing Accurate Biometrics, Inc. Agreement
My first thought was "Wait. WHAT?? Don't all police departments know how to roll fingerprints?" So, I did what any reasonable person would do -- I did a bit of google research. It appears this is a request to change the company we PROCESS the fingerprints with. Looks like our non-patrolling interim chief is doing something -- he's saving us $13 per non-police employee application. At the current turnover rate, this could bring significant savings to the village.