June 25, 2021

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Comptroller’s Office reveals lack of internal controls in Las Piedras fiscal operations

The Las Piedras report covers the period from July 1, 2015 to January 31, 2019

The comptroller, Yesmín Valdivieso, (Photo: Cybernews)

San Juan – The Comptroller of Puerto Rico issued this Monday, a qualified opinion of the fiscal operations of the Municipality of Las Piedras.

The Report reveals that municipal officials did not provide for examination, the collection receipts corresponding to various periods between 2015 and 2018 for $ 48,531.

This situation, contrary to Law 81-1999 of Autonomous Municipalities, prevents the maintenance of complete and reliable information on the financial situation and the results of the Municipality’s operations.

The audit of four findings indicates that a special assistant to the mayor implemented in 2018 a $ 100 petty cash fund for the Use of the Revenue Area, without requesting the approval of the Municipal Legislature.

The Finance Unit also had a Petty Cash for $ 2,000, which did have the approval of the Municipal Legislature since 2013.

In neither of the two petty cash funds did the Municipality carry out periodic control interventions or adequately supervise such operations.

Contrary to the laws and regulations in force, the Municipality did not make periodic dispositions of documents; the last one was in 2013.

In addition, the two public document filing facilities did not have a fire alarm system, automatic sprinklers or smoke detectors.

The Report publishes that, as of November 30, 2018, the Income and Disbursement Report reflected five funds with economic resources for $ 20,360 that had been inactive for up to more than three years. A similar situation had been commented on in the 2017 Audit Report M-17-33.

The audit comments on the lack of information in the invoices submitted by an administrative consulting advisor of the Municipality whose service coincided 52 days with services rendered to the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico between 2017 and 2018.

This situation made it impossible to verify whether the services were offered at conflicting hours and is partly due to the fact that Law 237-2004 on contracts for government professional services does not require contractors with more than one contract with the government to indicate the hours that rendered the services.

The audit recommends that the presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives address this situation.

The Municipality had accumulated deficits in the Operational Fund of 13% of its budget for 2016, 20 percent for 2017 and 29 percent for 2018.

In addition, in the budgets for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, it did not record the necessary credits to settle the current deficits of the previous years.

In December 2014 and January 2015, the Municipality implemented measures to address the financial crisis, such as reducing the working hours and monthly salary for employees. In addition, it implemented a 5% reduction in the salary of the mayor and trust officials.

As of January 31, 2019, Las Piedras had two civil lawsuits for $ 3,200,000 pending resolution by the courts

The Report recommends that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget ensure that the Municipality complies with the Corrective Action Plan established by the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico.

The Las Piedras report covers the period from July 1, 2015 to January 31, 2019, and is available at www.ocpr.gov.pr.

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