Alva mayor candidates expand on comments at recent forum
March 24, 2023
During a forum with candidates for Alva mayor on March 2, hosted by the Woods County Democratic Party, candidate Taylor Dowling displayed a single page from several years of City of Alva audits. During the question and answer session, Dowling referenced that information stating, “Our municipality has had a problem with asking questions over the past. Since 2015, our community has lost $3.5 million. That’s a devastating number. You can see part of that is with the audit not being reported correctly. The issue we have in Alva is making sure that our “i’s” are dotted and our “t’s” are crossed.
“We received a large grant of ARPA funding that could have just paid for the fire truck outright, but it could not go to that because of the system we created. This system is still put in place. The pooled cash account still exists,”
From the audience Ward 4 Councilmember Daniel Winters said, “That’s incorrect. ARPA funds had to be used specifically.”
Dowling continued, “Actually, Crawford and Associates, I reached out and I asked ‘what is the best way to explain the financial health of a municipality?’ and it is specifically the unassigned cash balance. That is a good easy understanding, and that is that one page I have represented there. That was the managing shareholder of Crawford & Associates that helped lead me in that direction.”
Crawford & Associates has been employed by the City of Alva to provide accounting assistance since Angelica Brady, the city business manager, left to take another job in June 2022.
Monday night, March 20, during the regular Alva City Council meeting, Mayor Kelly Parker addressed those comments during his report to the council, “Mr. Dowling, you had made mention at the forum at Cancun the other evening that you had been in conversation with the managing partners of Crawford & Associates and they had some concerns about our finances. Obviously, if there are concerns about our finances, we want to address those.”
Parker distributed a printout of an email conversation between himself and Frank Crawford, a managing partner of Crawford & Associates. “As you can see from this email, Mr. Crawford does not recall having a conversation with you, nor does any member of his staff,” said Parker. “But he did go back through and look at our finances to see if there were concerns he might have. His remarks were generally very favorable regarding our financial improvement over the last year or two.”
In his email, Crawford stated, “As far as the overall financial health of the City, the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022 was a good year in which the City improved upon its overall financial health and performance from the prior year that ended on June 30, 2021.”
Crawford goes on to list the following points:
• The City’s total net position (the difference between all assets and all liabilities on the modified cash basis) increased during FY 2022 by $1,774,745, or 14% from the prior year.
• The City’s overall unrestricted net position deficit actually decreased in size by $449,000 from the prior year, from a deficit of $(1,201,000) to deficit of $(752,000), a reduction in the size of the unrestricted deficit of 37.4%.
• Total current assets of the City increased by 14.4%, or $558,000.
• In addition, the City increased its Net investment in Capital Assets by $941,000 or 10%.
• The City also reduced its long-term obligation debt load by 8.8% or $478,000.
• The City’s total sales and use tax increased by $322,928 from the prior year, from a total of $4,176,508 to $4,499,436.
“I don’t want folks to be alarmed by our financial status because our financial status is improving,” said Parker.
Dowling explained his comment about talking to “the managing shareholder of Crawford & Associates.” He said, “Just to clarify, I attended a class that they (Crawford & Associates) sponsored where they talked about different issues within the municipal audit and where to verify and what you should look for and how to interpret it, sponsored by OML (Oklahoma Municipal League).”
Later in the city council meeting, Andy Cromer, CPA with HSPG & Associates, PC presented information from the City of Alva audit covering July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. A report on that presentation and the following council discussion will appear in the Sunday, March 26, Alva Review-Courier.
Videos of the March 2 candidate forum and of the March 20 Alva City Council meeting may be viewed at http://www.AlvaReviewCourier.com. Click on the Videos tab to access the video files.