Guenther Asked To Step Down Over Brigantine Financial Audit

Brigantine bank accounts not reconciled, purchase orders in duplicate, asset ledger not maintained in 2014, and checks for 6 grand sent monthly to a Florida LLC that used to manage golf courses. Just another day inside Mayor Guenther’s City Hall.

Phil Guenther Brigantine NJ Assembly
Phil Guenther

From July 2015 Brigantine News Archives.

How bad is it? ‘It’s so bad, the 25% of homeowners with voting rights have lost sight of what’s right and wrong’ said Margaret Housman, a part-time resident for the past 25 years.

As usual, Mayor Guenther has been quiet on this latest Brigantine financial scandal.

The 25+ year Mayor has proven time and time again that he is skilled at downplaying critical issues like these, even if bordering on ‘actionable offences’. A growing group of part-time residents, as well as full-time residents, have discussed a recall to remove Guenther from office after news broke of this debacle.

Mitchell Gonzalez, a full-time resident of Brigantine said: We’re not talking grey area here. It’s black and white. The Guenther administration has accomplished some amazingly brazen moves using 2nd homeowner dollars.

Financial & Economic Mis-Steps of Mayor Phil Guenther & Brigantine City Hall

  • The Links Golf Course give-away
  • $6,000 per month sent to Meadowbrook Golf in Florida for services unknown.
  • Public Safety employees costing close to $200,000 a piece
  • 9 ex-chiefs receiving pensions and benefits
  • Off-duty fireman rear-ends Police vehicle. City pays for repair. DUI check & wreckless driving offense covered up.
  • Budget-breaking union contracts expired 3 years ago, but are still valid
  • Bonding & borrowing with little detail on how those dollars are spent
  • Continued Fire Department overtime abuse
  • Documented breach of security perpetrated by Chief of Police
  • Lack of Brigantine Hockey & Football financials / non-profit transparency
  • Harassment of local business operators leading to 30+ empty storefronts
  • Deleting and blocking of City Council video webcasts

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BRIGANTINE BEACHCOMBER– The city may have to upgrade some of its accounting systems after an audit showed some of its 2014 reporting to be “a disgrace” while other items were termed unrecorded, unresolved, inaccurate and invalid.

The first of 9 major issues was “the general ledger was not reconciled with sub-ledgers.”

“This basically was a disgrace,” Auditor Costello said at a special July 24 Brigantine council meeting.

The effect was “not all transactions were properly recorded nor were transfers made within the period in which the disbursements occurred meaning the city is not compliant with New Jersey Administrative Code.

According to the report, the city had an over-expenditure of appropriations in the current fund appropriation reserves, which is not permitted by local budget law and local finance board regulations.

The city approved a debt service payment of “bond anticipation notes and capital notes in the current fund before verifying that there were sufficient funds available in the budget lines,” the report said. As a result, Costello said, the over-expenditures must be raised in the 2015 municipal budget as deferred charges.

Bank accounts were not reconciled in a timely manner and records were not available until the beginning of March 2015, he said. As a result, the annual municipal financial statement could not be filed on time as required by state statute.

The city’s master bank account reconciliation was inaccurately prepared and the city’s engineering escrow bank account was not reconciled at all in 2014, Costello said. Several expenses were unrecorded at year end as well as unresolved bank charges, inaccurate debt service payments and invalid encumbrances recorded.

There were several invalid purchase orders noted in all of the city’s funds.

The Brigantine Financial Report noted that some purchase orders were entered in duplicate, others did not have any support attached, and several could not be located.
Another finding said the fixed asset ledger was not maintained in 2014.

State administrative code requires the city to maintain a fixed asset ledger consisting of detailed property records for controlling additions, retirements and transfers of fixed assets.

The City Clerk’s Office failed to reconcile dog and marriage licenses in 2014, the report said, resulting in the state not receiving proper amounts. State reports were not signed or submitted on a timely basis, according to Costello.

The City of Brigantine was apparently unaware that the Police and Fire department post retirement dental benefits-liability had to be recorded.

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