As members of the city of West Linn Citizens' Budget Committee, we take any allegation of financial mismanagement very seriously.
In Ms. Oakes' Sept. 8 guest opinion titled 'Proposed Percent for the Arts Program changes a step backward,' Ms. Oakes uses the term 'mismanagement' as it relates to the arts program and arts funding.
In investigating this allegation, we found no proof of 'mismanagement' of arts funds. Monies from other funds - not the arts fund - were used to purchase/construct the Hammerle Park fountain. Arts funds were not mismanaged, and there is no deficit in the arts fund.
Ms. Oakes questioned the CFO of the city of West Linn, Richard Seals, on capital projects with unrestricted funds that should be subject to the 1.5 percent arts funds allocation. Mr. Seals outlined all capital projects dating back to 2007. Only one project qualified for the percentage of the arts funding with unrestricted funds at a total of $3,365 allocated to the Public Art Trust Fund. The fountain at Hammerle Park was included in the listing to illustrate that West Linn funds art from other sources above and beyond what is specifically required for the arts fund.
Contrary to what might have been interpreted from the information, arts funds were not used to purchase the Hammerle fountain, and there is no deficit in the arts fund.
Many years ago, our city's financial house was not in order. However, over the last six years, the city of West Linn has: a) completed independent audits by outside accounting agencies, b) set aside reserve funds to ensure financial stability, c) driven down risk associated with West Linn's capital projects - lowering our interest rate - and d) received awards for financial budgets and reporting from national organizations. Financial clarity, transparency, accountability and stability are the top goals of the city of West Linn Citizens' Budget Committee.
Karen Hensley is chairwoman of the City of West Linn's Citizen's Budget Committee; Thomas Frank is vice chairman of the group.