Town Officials Double Down On $1.4 Million Budget Error

by | Oct 26, 2017

Dykeman Blames Previous Administration 

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

At the Town Council meeting Monday night, Finance Director Linda Dykeman presented a budget report for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 (1st Qtr 2018 Budget Report), the first such budget report since Dykeman and Town Manager Gayle Corrigan assumed their leadership roles in June. 

Town Councilor Mark Schwager asked why the fire department “rescue billing” line item – $700,000 – was listed under “Other Income” instead of being listed as fire department income. (Rescue billing is the insurance money made from 911 calls.)

“That’s interesting because it was actually buried under expenses” in the 2018 budget, said Dykeman. “It was the only revenue line that was buried in the fire department expenses, to reduce the overall budget in appearance of the fire department. I had to physically move it up to revenue…. If I printed a report from Munis [the budgeting software], you would still see it reducing the expenses of the fire department.”

Except it doesn’t reduce the fire department’s budget. It increases it.

In the Corrigan/Dykeman 2018 budget, rescue billing is listed with fire department expenses (find it on page 33). But, it is listed as an expense.

In former Town Manager Tom Coyle’s proposed 2018 budget, rescue billing is listed as fire department revenue.

Dykeman said Monday night she inherited the problem from the previous administration. Former Town Manager Tom Coyle’s proposed 2018 budget, however, did not have the rescue billing revenue line listed under expenses, nor did budgets for 2017, 2016, or 2015. 

Instead, rescue billing in those earlier budgets is listed as fire department revenue.

In Coyle’s proposed 2018 budget, the fire department’s total budget expenses are listed as $4,162,597.

Coyle’s proposed 2018 budget for the fire department was $4,162,597. The Corrigan/Dykeman 2018 budget for the fire department is $4,863,868. The difference between the two is $701,271. 

The total budgeting error is $1.4 million, since the $700,000 rescue billing revenue – the highest revenue line in previous budgets after taxes – is not counted as revenue anywhere in the budget. 

A emailed request for clarification Monday night got this response Tuesday from Town Manager Corrigan:

“In the Town’s accounting systems the previous administration had incorrectly included rescue billing revenue in the Fire Department as expense lines. The print out of the budget from the Munis system clearly shows the $700,000 rescue billing revenue as a Fire Department expense. As Ms. Dykeman mentioned last evening, it will take several years to work out all of the peculiarities in the Town’s accounting and budget system.”

Interview requests were not returned. 

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8 Comments

  1. Tracie Truesdell

    Gayle,
    So long!
    Farewell!
    Auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!!!

    Reply
  2. Camille Speca

    Thank you, Elizabeth for this reporting.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Stevens

    Where does that Item fall in other Town’s Charter of Accounts?

    Reply
  4. David Caldwell

    So, even according to the Corrigan/Dykeman budget, even with the tax cut, we will run a $1.4 million surplus, so we have $1.4 million available to give to the schools.

    Why, again, won’t Cienki and Corrigan agree to pay the $45,000 sewer bill?

    Reply
    • David Caldwell

      So, I did a quick analysis of the budget (see https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jgYJFPj_wNm4Zgyy99gdTulW7l-JR98eRAIpq7r-dHA/edit#gid=0), and it turns out there’s no $1.4 million lying around. I misunderstood the errors Dykeman made.

      Here are the two sources of error:

      1. The Fire Department budget is overstated in her original budget, by $700,000, as the story points out, because Dykeman left the error in the Fire Department expense total in place, while silently fixing it in the Town’s total expenses to reduce them by 700,000.

      2. The Fire Department income appears nowhere in the budget income, and is buried under “other income” in the Q1 report income. This is different from every other department, which get their own revenue lines (Town Clerk, DPW, Police, Municipal Court, for example). This makes it harder to see the offset the FD is providing against its expenses.

      Given the apparent hostility against the FD by the current Town regime, whether these errors intentionally overstate the cost of the Fire Department, or are merely one-off errors that accidentally mislead, is left as an exercise for the reader.

      Reply
  5. bob ingerson

    amazing, utterly, amazing. apparently neither can read.

    Reply
  6. Renu Englehart

    This is such a blatant attempt by two accountants (and members of the town council) to frame the fire department. To complain that the system (and the past manager) made the mistake when Ms. Corrigan and Ms. Dykeman are supposedly “professionals” boggles the mind. I think the state should be looking at the accounts of EG and the ethics of all involved.

    Reply
  7. Juan Ledesma

    The lies just won’t end with this regime. Can an East Greenwich Republican please sit down with me and explain to me why they’re ok with the lies? I’m serious, I really want to sit down and just listen. Explain to me your side, and why you support Sue, Sean, Nino, Andy, Gayle, and Lynda. I’ll even buy the coffee.

    Reply

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