A recent audit of Market Lubbock Inc. is raising some eyebrows on the city council. That's because the audit points out some problems with accounting and other budget matters at Market Lubbock Inc.
The audit states Market Lubbock Inc. has repeatedly and significantly exceeded its budget without amending it or getting written approval from city council. It goes on to say the excess expenditures could be construed to be violations of the law.
Mike Field, the chair of Market Lubbock Inc.'s board of directors says that doesn't concern him. "There's nothing in the report that really disturbs me at all," says Field. Field says Market Lubbock can account for all the money it receives and spends down to the nickel. They think Market Lubbock is satisfying its goals and objectives. "We'll never have a perfect audit report. Those don't exist. I've never seen one. So, you do the best you can," says Field.
Councilman Tom Martin says this audit is beyond simple imperfections, and brings up some real ugly concerns. He says Market Lubbock must get city council's approval for every nickel it spends, and that's not happening.
The audit also alleges that un-budgeted expenditures like interest earnings could be construed as misappropriations of public tax dollars. Board member Delbert McDougal says there are some accounting concerns, but those issues can be easily resolved. "If you look at the expenditures and what Market Lubbock has brought to this community, that far outweighs any type of accounting issues that might be there," says McDougal.
Sharp points out that all financial statements in the audit were clean. But Sharp says he agrees with McDougal that accounting procedures and communications between the city and Market Lubbock could be better. "I think there are definitely some things we are going to do to improve our financial reporting relationships with the city," says Sharp.
The audit says these same issues have been brought up before and haven't been corrected in years past. Martin says that brings up the need for council as a body to meet with Market Lubbock and discuss improving record keeping at Market Lubbock.
Another communications concern came up at Wednesday's meeting. David Sharp said that, in the past, Market Lubbock was told by city officials not to discuss budget numbers with members of city council. Interim City Manager Tommy Gonzales says if that was indeed a practice in the past, it won't be in the future.