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Home > Leadership > City Comptroller > Press Releases > Schroeder wants more accountability, transparency in discretionary funds

Schroeder recommends more accountability, transparency in audit of Council’s discretionary funds

Reforms would help ensure tax dollars are being spent properly

In an audit examining the distribution of the Common Council’s discretionary funds, Buffalo Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder has included recommendations that would bring more accountability and transparency to the process of awarding the grants.

“We want to make sure that there is proper documentation for every tax dollar spent, including invoices, receipts, and cancelled checks,” said Schroeder.  “We also want to ensure that the organizations receiving this money are legitimate non-profits, and are spending the funds on approved projects that benefit the community.”

The audit began in 2011, before Schroeder took office, and were spurred by the actions of Brian Davis, a former councilman convicted of using discretionary funds for personal gain.  Last July, Schroeder worked with the Common Council to adopt a list of guidelines governing the disbursement of discretionary funds.  The reforms recommended in the audit go even farther to protect tax dollars.

“Every organization receiving money would have to fill out a standardized application form that would be approved by the council, and would include a detailed plan for using the funds, a list of board members, contact information, tax identification number, and verification of its non-profit status.  That information, along with the amount and purpose of the grant, would then be available on the city’s website,” said Schroeder.

Recipient groups would also be required to submit financial disclosure forms listing any business or personal relationships that could potentially create conflicts of interest.  After submitting all the required documentation, the organization would enter into a contract with the city, and would agree to spend the funds in accordance with the guidelines adopted last July.

The audit also recommended the $1 million in discretionary funds be more clearly identified in the city budget, where it is currently listed under “other contractual services.”  In a response to the audit, the Common Council agreed to rename the budget line “Common Council Neighborhood Initiatives.”

“The Common Council has shown a willingness to work with us to improve this process,” said Schroeder.  “These reforms will help to ensure that tax dollars are being spent responsibly.”