The Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., which has received more than $1 million in public funds in the last six years, is poised to be the subject of an independent city audit for the first time in 2011.
“The audit plan is not a legal document requiring approval by City Council,” Nester said in a memo to Mayor Lionel Rivera and council members.
“However, the interim city auditor is presenting the audit plan to City Council at their informal meeting to ensure that the majority of City Council concurs with the plan,” the memo states.
An audit of the EDC was first proposed in August by Councilman Sean Paige, which generated a contentious debate – and a bigger rift – between Paige and council members Bernie Herpin and Jan Martin.
“During our discussion for the need of an EDC audit, each member supporting a city audit of EDC remarked that they did not expect to find any ‘irregularities’, or words to that effect,” Herpin said in an e-mail to his colleagues. “Given the estimated time and cost of such an audit, I cannot justify spending city resources on an audit when there are no grounds to believe that any impropriety has occurred.”
Paige reacted with dismay.
“Perhaps you are willing to lay out significant taxpayer and ratepayer funds annually, without exercising some independent oversight, blindly trusting that EDC is using these funds wisely, and that they are delivering the results they say they are. But I am not,” Paige said in an e-mail.
“At a time when locals are nursing a deep cynicism and distrust toward City Hall, maybe a little confidence can be restored if we turn words like transparency, accountability and oversight into action,” Paige wrote.
In the memo to council, Nester said “the purpose of the audit is to answer specific questions concerning the use of public funds provided to the Economic Development Corp. as requested by” council members.