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Palm Coast Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 1 year ago

Mosquito Control District shifts staff responsibilities as director plans retirement after revealing $1.1 million budget hole

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The district is laying off six staff members to make up for the deficit.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

East Flagler Mosquito Control District Executive Director Joe Cash is resigning just weeks after revealing to the district’s staff and its three-member elected board that the district has a $1.1 million budget hole.

Cash has transferred his duties over to his second in command, Mark Positano, said Mosquito Control Board member Dr. Florence Fruehan.

The district will address Cash’s retirement at its upcoming board meeting Aug. 21.

“Mr. Cash called me on the phone and said that he was going to be submitting his resignation, going into retirement,” Fruehan said. The board will discuss with him what duties he will be continuing, for how long and at what level of pay, Fruehan said.

Positano is handling Cash’s duties, and “was put in place prior, and actually he’s been running most of the operations for a considerable period of time,” Fruehan said.

The revelation that the district had a deficit of $1.1 million came after Cash sent a July 28 letter with the topic title “Critical budget oversight” to the commissioners.

Cash wrote, “The fund balance was incorrectly stated and by the time the error was discovered the budget was overspend by $1.1 million.”

Accountant Julieann Klein, of the Daytona Beach-based Lombardo Spradley Klein accounting firm, wrote in a July 25 memo that the when the 2017 budget was drafted, “the actual fund balance for the year ended September 30, 2015 was used as the amount of fund balance to be carried forward into the 2016-2017 budget year. The amount that should have been used was the projected fund balance as of September 30, 2016.”

The budget process takes place in June and July, a few months before the end of the fiscal year, and the amount has to be projected based on budgeted amounts from the previous fiscal year, she continued. Usually, the prior year’s fund balance was close to the carry forward balance. But then the district began building a new, $2.1 million facility at the airport, causing a “dramatic drop in the carry forward fund balance.”

Remedies for the problem, Cash wrote, were “harsh,” and included the firing of six staff members, most of them part-timers.

Some staff members who would be retained, including Cash, Positano and district Finance Director Rachel Knapp, would not get pay increases; others would be restricted to just 3% cost of living increases. Travel would be cut in half, Cash would lose his health insurance, and Knapp would lose her dependents’ health insurance.

Fruehan described the budget oversight as “a complacency issue.”

“My discussion with (Positano) is that we are going to have a further review,” he said. “We’re going to probably be eliminating certain accounting positions. At this point ... our accounting practices can’t be the same as they were.”

 

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