A new audit of how the city manages millions of dollars in state and federal grants has come to the same conclusion that previous examinations have: Grant money coming into government coffers is not balancing out with what city agencies are spending. “The city is not able to establish accurate balances of grant accounts,” city Auditor Audrey Askew told Baltimore’s spending panel Wednesday. “The city could lose its much-needed [grant] funding”
This isn’t new for Baltimore.
Reports show the city failed past examinations for millions of dollars that have been unaccounted for. This time, the numbers are estimated at $448 million in grants – 16 percent of its $2.8 billion budget.
While previous years of error are still in question, Finance Director Henry Raymond confirmed that the unbalanced numbers for this fiscal year were an accounting issue – good news for speculators who thought funds may have been abused. According to Baltimore Sun, “Askew said her audit found a ‘lack of communication’ between agencies that receive grants and the city’s finance department. A lack of formal accounting processes made it impossible to confirm whether grants were being spent for their intended purposes, she said.”
“We’re training agencies on how to properly use budget account numbers,” he said. “Staff at the agencies are using outdated or incorrect grant account numbers.”
Raymond told the Board of Estimates that he’s aware of the ongoing issue, which should not repeat itself moving forward under his watch.