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Councilman Continues Press for Review of City Account

Utica Councilman is once again seeking an audit for the 'Water Trust Fund' for the City of Utica.

Posted: Apr. 10, 2018 6:43 PM

The Utica Common Council and the City of Utica remain at odds over use of a restricted account.

The Comptroller says he's supplied all the paperwork for the Finance Committee to see, however one City Councilman is calling for a full-scale review of the "Water Trust Fund".

Councilman Joe Marino says the reason for seeking this audit is because the Council can't see what's in the account, and says if the City seeks to be transparent, then they should come forward and show how that money is being used by way of an independent, or forensic audit.

The Water Trust Fund is an account of when the water system was sold to the Mohawk Valley Water Authority.

Utica receives $480,000 dollars a year through the year 2036.

Councilman Marino, who also serves as Finance Chairman says they can't see transactions run by the city using that account.

Marino sent out a letter to media outlets that were also addressed to Comptroller Morehouse.

In the letter, Marino writes "Neither I nor the finance committee, is asserting any claim of criminal activity, as suggested by your staff. We are, however, very interested in the exact use of every dollar in this account and how it was transferred through our budget, because it is a restricted fund account, so full accountability and transparency is vital to this process and our residents."

in response to the letter, NewsChannel 2 was able to talk with Utica Comptroller Bill Morehouse, who says he's already supplied paperwork from this account over the past five years and adds they can schedule an appointment to view the account in full detail.

Morehouse says, "What happened was an amendment was presented by Councilwoman Testa that would that would have taken an additional $450,000 out of the CIT (Water Trust) fund. We had explained to her that although there was $2.5 million in the CIT fund, that you can only use 50 percent of it. We have $750,000 in the 2017-18 budget that we hadn't moved out yet, that was part of the budget. We hadn't moved it out yet it was part of the budget, that brought it down to $1.7 million which means there was only $850,000 available."

Marino said that if there is no error by the city, then an audit should prove no wrongdoing. However, there would be a cost to city taxpayers in order to order one. The Councilman couldn't give an exact figure. 

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