The Salt Lake Finance Department, soon to be under a new director, isn't meeting expectations of elected officials and could save more than $140,000 by restructuring its staff, an audit of the department found.
The audit was released following the resignation of department Director Lance Bateman, who quit last week but said he would remain in office to respond to the critical audit, which will be discussed at a City Council meeting Thursday.Among the many recommendations made in the carefully worded audit is that the department's role with respect to other city departments be better defined and tailored to meet the expectations of elected officials.
"A majority of the City Council expressed their expectations that the finance department assertively monitor and control the city's financial resources," the audit said.
"However, these expectations are not clearly defined nor articulated" and the department is not consistent in meeting them, it said.
The finance department had submitted a response to the audit to the City Council last week. However, that response was not reviewed by the mayor's office, council staff auditor Lee King said.
"So, at the request of the mayor's office, we pulled the responses," he said.
The department, which reports to Mayor Palmer DePaulis, serves other departments well in budget preparation, purchasing and payroll and other areas, the audit said.
However, "there is no tradition of subjecting operating department head financial decisions to skeptical or critical review," the audit said.
The audit also recommended the city revise the department's organizational structure to be more efficient. Six positions in the treasurer's office, financial information office and purchasing office should be eliminated.
Eliminating those positions together with redefining other positions and shifting duties to others would result in an estimated savings of more than $141,000, the audit found.
Currently, budget preparation is handled by the mayor's office, the finance department, Capital Planning Division, human resources department and City Council staff. Instead, a unified budget office should prepare the budget, the audit said.
"The fragmentation of responsibility on the executive side complicates communications, increases the cost of budget review and reduces its effectiveness," it said.
Bateman said he would stay in office until he fully responded to the audit. Meanwhile, DePaulis appointed current City Council Executive Director Linda Hamilton to head the finance department.