SYRACUSE — A state audit claims Syracuse did not follow proper competitive bidding procedures for some road repairs.
The report from the State Auditor’s Office, released Tuesday, covers use of Class C road funds from July of 2009 to February 2012, and alleges the city did not get competitive bids for road work in the case of five projects totaling $77,181.
The audit also reveals the misappropriated $806 in one case for parking lot repairs, which are not covered in the parameters of road funding and also alleges the city did not provide proper oversight of money used for road repairs in 2010 and 2011.
Finance Director Stephen Marshall addressed the audit and the draft findings during a recent city work session and said he will work to fix any mistakes the city may have regarding procedure and move forward to train staff on how to potentially avoid any more problems.
Marshall, who worked for the auditor’s office at one point in his career, said the first finding deals with the fact that city officials created seven or eight different invoices for 10 to 15 road patching projects, instead of considering it one project. He said the city should have bid out the work as one project.
"We know how to define what a project is. The challenge comes again if we have two different areas of the city. That’s one thing we will clarify," Marshall said.
The second finding deals with oversight of money, which was used for parking lot repair, something Marshall acknowledged is an error.
"We concur with that recommendation," he said of the finding.
He said the audit only shows the city misused $806 of road funds, in all, with the parking lot repair.
The audit deals with an area, which has been a sore point for city officials.
For several years it has been the practice of city officials to use a portion of the state revenue to pay for salaries. That practice was formally stopped earlier this year.
In a mid-year budget change approved in February, the council voted on an amended budget, which includes an additional $315,580 in Class B & C road funds to put toward road repair within the city, shifting away from a dependency on state road monies to pay for salaries, rather than road repair itself.
The city receives approximately $650,000 a year in class B & C road funds but for the past few years most of that funding has been diverted to address salaries and wages, according to City Manager Robert Rice.
He said city officials knew it was a bad practice and they have actively tried to address the issue, since he became city manager. Rice said almost $450,000 a year of funding has been diverted to other uses, leaving just $200,000 a year dedicated to the roads.
He said funding for snow removal, salt and maintenance also comes out of the revenue source, which has dwindled what is left to address road needs.