Who Is Steve Hoffman?

Steve Hoffman is one of WPB best kept secrets. Mr Hoffman has worked through four mayor’s, Graham, Davis, Frankel, and Muoio. His job description is Grants Compliance Officer for the City of West Palm Beach. Mr. Hoffman is responsible for tracking the dollars spent against grants received, and to insure all money is allocated, in the time frame allowed. I will offer one example of the city’s ineffectiveness to do this job. HOME grant.

On May 23,2014 the Internal Auditors meeting was held. In attendance were:
Sylvia Moffett City Commissioner, Chairperson
David Rosenstein Mayor’s Designee Committee Member
Len Fintzy Member-At-Large Committee Member
Harvey Caspari Member-At-Large Committee Member
Peter Camacho Member-At-Large Committee Member

The committee members listed above are all volunteers who dedicate their time in an effort to assist WPB to become a better city. Also present were Commissioner’s Robinson & James, Roger Strout- City Internal Auditor, Jeff Green -City Administrator, Michelle Sias-Director of Finance, Michael Fetterman -Marcum,LLP (Outside Auditor’s) These are the main players present at the May meeting.

Here are a few highlights from that meeting.
Commissioner Robinson made mention of HOME funds which totaled $709,942.00 and questioned if these funds were pending, or did the funds have to be returned.
Mr. Green responded he hoped the city would not have to return the funds.

Mr Caspari made a request to obtain the schedule to see how much of the expenditure was made against the awarded grant amount. Mr Strout mentioned that he requested the information from Steve Hoffman and to date has not received it. Commissioner Robinson stated he has been waiting 2 years for this information, and gave an example of a grant for a bike patrol worth $110,000.00, and because the money went unspent, the city lost the funds.

Mr Hoffman supposedly has completed the grants report, but wants administration to review it before presenting it to the Audit Committee. Really?

Mr. Strout requested that the finance department forward to the Audit Dept. and Committee members a copy of Mr Hoffman’s report before the next Audit Committee meeting. Mr. Green, city administrator agreed to this request.

Mayor Designee, David Rosenstein indicated that “the Internal Auditor is remiss in not pressing management to comply with his request in a timely fashion. The root cause for the delay is lack of people, but he must get his requested information in a timely manner to avoid fraud.”

Now here is where this writer is confused: What action does Mr. Rosenstein suggest Mr. Strout do in order to receive reports needed to do his auditing job, when Commissioner Robinson has been requesting this information for two years.

What is written above was taken from the minutes of the May 23,2014 meeting and approved at the July 18,2014 meeting by the Committee Members.

No meeting was held in June and Commissioner Moffett suggested the audit meet every other month instead of monthly. The committee members want to keep it monthly.
Now we jump ahead to the meeting held on July 18,2014 The people listed above were present at this meeting also joined by Dorritt Miller, Deputy City Administrator. This meeting was hot!

The city’s Grants Compliance Officer Steve Hoffman was requested in May to attend the July meeting, to answer to non compliance of grants. Mr. Hoffman was a no show and finance director, Michelle Sias told the committee members he was on 2 1/2 weeks vacation. Audit committee member, Harvey Caspari was not pleased with that answer and requested his displeasure be placed on record.

Commissioner Robinson also voiced displeasure saying he has requested grant compliance information since 2012 and to date, has not received the information. The commissioner continued to say, administration decided not to give grant information to commissioners and abruptly left the meeting, saying, he had 8 months left as a city commissioner, and he intends to continue coming to audit meetings when his term expires and then he left the meeting stating “I know where all of bodies are buried”

If Commissioner Robinson has information concerning city business, is it not his duty to the residents to expose wrong doings? He has already stated he is not seeking another term, so what has he to lose? He should give residents a fighting chance to remove, from the city, leaders that fear what will be exposed.

The Auditor’s May 23, 2014 request for the Finance Department to forward to him, copies of the grant manager’s report and bank reconciliation records from finance before the next audit meeting, was not met. Deputy Administrator, Dorritt Miller summed It up as a miscommunication between departments.

City Auditor insisted he was clear and have the two e-mails to show, and offered to resend them to the Finance Dept; but Ms. Miller said there is no need for e-mails when the departments are across the hall from each other and the auditor can just walk to the department for request. My interpretation of her comment is for God’s sake don’t leave a paper trail for some nosey resident to request a PRR or it can become a case for he said-she said. Always a good idea to back up statements with a paper trail.

David Rosenstein, Mayor’s Designee, suggested City Auditor Roger Strout adjust his number of yearly audit’s to a more reasonable number. I suggest Mr Strout, who has 30 years in the business realizes what he and his staff can accomplish if he was to receive much needed, requested information from departments to complete his audits.

Marcum ,LLP the city external auditor reported the city has not done a monthly bank reconciliation in the past year. This means the city has not balanced it’s checkbook with bank statements. Who runs a city like this?

The city places a lien on residents who don’t pay their water bills, and it is then placed on their county tax bill for collection. The problem is residents who have paid the bill have not had the lien’s removed, and residents are up in arms because it is two years later and they want relief. The city is fixing the problem. People are working Sat. 7/19 and 7/26 in an attempt to bring the records up to date. Who runs a city like this?

Some good news from the city: On Monday July 21 it was reported the City’s (employees) hot line to report cases of Fraud, Waste, Abuse of City Resources or Questionable Activities will be up and running. Reporting is to remain confidential.