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Oakridge to Get More Answers to City’s Financial Mess

OAKRIDGE, Ore. —  Where did the money go? After six months of anticipation, Oakridge residents will get some answers to the city’s financial mistakes tonight.

A forensic accountant from Acuity Group PLLC, based in Vancouver, Washington, will present her findings.

This all stems from Oakridge City Manager Gordon Zimmerman’s announcement this summer that he couldn’t account for $420,000 dollars missing from the city budget.

Then city officials later revealed that they’d drained Oakridge’s cash reserves by $1.2 million over a two year period.

Forensic accountant Tiffany Couch stepped in and looked back at the last 28 months of Oakridge’s budget.

She found that 20 out of those 28 months, city leaders spent more than they brought in.

She has already cancelled city checks dating back the last two years, but she says the city’s current budget talks don’t seem to be leading them out of the mess.

“You’re budgeting $1.8 million more in cash coming into your city then was actually coming into the city in the last two or three years. And my question to the city council was, is that what you expect to have happen?” she said.

As far as allegations against Zimmerman, she says she doesn’t see any evidence of misappropriation of money.

Regarding current bank documents, Couch said in a letter to the city that she had a very difficult time getting them from Zimmerman.

He initially told her by email there were no documents. She said in the letter that when the documents were sent to her by the city, they didn’t contain any auditing information.

After a follow-up email to Zimmerman, she says he called her, she explained once again the audit provisions, and he then told her he did have a letter from the bank.

After she reminded him he initially told her there was no letter, he emailed the bank documents to her.

Today and Friday, her firm will be in Oakridge to try and reconcile the city’s bank accounts with the accounting system, which she says is not an easy task.

Tonight, Couch will present the most current financial results and says that may include what specific city accounts were overspent.

The meeting is at the Oakridge School District board room at 7 p.m.

http://www.ci.oakridge.or.us/Portals/OakridgeOR/Documents/Budgets/2011_City_Council_Update.pdf.

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