The Indiana State Board of Accounts audit found the city of Evansville failed to properly reconcile the city's books in 2011 -- under the previous administration. The city is blaming the 2011 introduction of new accounting software and bad book keeping for the financial discrepancies.
The council hired Garrett to see what went wrong, to ensure those mistakes never happen again. But this week accusations surfaced suggesting Garrett wasn't qualified for the job. Concerns over his credentials took center stage at the city council meeting Monday night.
Some suggested Garrett wasn't qualified for the job because he is not CPA certified. Garrett was once CPA certified, but stopped renewing the certification several years ago. Scott Danks, the council's attorney, says Garrett didn't feel it was necessary to have a CPA because he never practiced as a public accountant. Danks and John Friend, the council's finance chairman, says the council is not asking Garrett to do anything that would require a CPA. Friend recommended Garrett for the job last year. He says he's known him through the accounting profession for about seven years and admires his intelligence. Friend says he still considers Garrett a CPA, just as he would consider a retired physician a doctor. "He still is a very intelligent, very analytical type of individual," says Friend.
Jonathan Weaver, City Council at Large, says he felt pressured into hiring Garrett. Weaver was one of two council members who voted against hiring the accountant last year. "The perception was that he was a CPA and so maybe there's some disappointment there," says Weaver. He says he wishes the council would have taken bids for the position. Council President Constance Robinson says Garrett's contract is a professional service contract, which do not require bids.
Danks says someone filed a complaint about Garrett because he has a history of bankruptcy and is not CPA certified. During Monday night's meeting, Danks blasted the complaint, calling it "malicious" and "disgusting." He says Garrett never held himself out as a CPA, and instead listed the certification under "prior certifications" in his resume.
The council opted for a vote of confidence to voice their continued support for Garrett, despite the allegations. It passed 7 to 2. Council members Missy Mosby and Jonathan Weaver voted no.
"Basically I think it's a duplication of services and a waste of tax dollars -- $20,000," says Weaver, adding he's also troubled by a report Garrett wrote about the city's finances. The report featured a timeline of events in the city's financial history. City Controller Russell Lloyd released a response pointing out several mistakes in the report.
"While a timeline of this unfortunate string of events may be helpful, Mr. Garrett's report with numerous errors, unfounded assumptions and unnecessary provocative and dramatic language is not helping the situation," Lloyd states in his response.
Friend says the report was intended for him. He sent it to the council members, controller and mayor's office after the council asked for an update on the accountant's progress.
While some continue to question the hire, the majority of council members reaffirmed their support for the accountant Monday evening. It appears David Garrett is here to stay.