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Wednesday, April 30, 2014 articles (index)
Editorial: City’s website obscures spending, Tribune publishes city’s budgets

Editorial: City’s budget and website obscure spending

The city’s budget and its website obscure the city’s spending as will be related below.

Last evening, April 29, a public worksession was held at city hall by city manager Scott Dadson and his staff to present to the five members of city council and interested citizens the proposed 2015 city budget including details of the proposed budget for the planning department with a comparison to 2014.

The planning department is responsible, among other things, for coordinating the city’s recently adopted Civic Master Plan, bought at a cost of $1,964,728 paid so far to an independent planning firm called Lawrence Group, according to figures furnished to The Beaufort Tribune by William Harvey III, the city’s attorney, in response to a request made by us to the city manager.

Nowhere in the proposed budget revealed last night by Mr. Dadson was any reference to any monies proposed to be paid to Lawrence Group for work previously announced by the city to be upcoming for the form-based code. Mr. Dadson said payments to Lawrence Group stopped in fiscal year 2014 although, he said, some monies may have been prepaid in 2014 for work to be done in 2015.

We perused at the worksession last evening the budget figures presented on an overhead projector to city council. Nowhere were any funds shown to have been already paid in 2014 to Lawrence Group or prepaid for 2015.

Further, the presentation omitted any reference to the salaries and related costs of the staff of the planning department, headed by Libby Anderson, which amount to almost 50% of the planning department’s annual budget. We asked for that information at the planning session but were told it is contained in the city manager’s budget, not in the planning department’s budget, and that everything is readily available on the city’s website.

So, this morning we went to the city’s website to find this information. Nowhere on the website is there any menu to find the city’s budget. At least, we could not find any such menu.

However, if one has the wits to use the search bar on the city’s website and searches for the word “budget”, up will pop references to budgets starting in 2009 through now. But, nowhere will one easily find any past or proposed spending for Lawrence Group for the Civic Master Plan, form-based code or anything else, all the responsibility of the planning department.

We still have no idea where the $1,964,728 already paid to Lawrence Group is buried in the budget. To help the citizens find out, we have today started a new section of the Tribune called “Beaufort City – Financial” and have published there all of the information we have been able to find buried at the city’s website on the budgets. Here’s the link and you can also get to this information on our menu at the top under the heading “Beaufort City”.

We encourage interested citizens to analyze the budget and help the Tribune figure all of this out.

We also are wondering where are the city’s audited financial statements? That’s the amount the city has actually spent, not how much it has budgeted. We cannot find the city’s audited financial statements anywhere on the city’s website and a search at the search bar for “audited” shows no results.

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