Willamette Falls Media Center audit reveals $48,000 in question

Center has 'unsupported transactions,' but its staff is not accused of theft or fraud

An audit of the finances at Willamette Falls Media Center found $48,293 in 'questionable' spending over a roughly one-year period at the cable access station, owned jointly by Oregon City and West Linn.

The results of the review, released late last week, follow the temporary shutdown of the media center in April because of 'concerns raised over the financial management and general operations of the media center, as well as the resignation of two Clackamas Cable Access Board members who cited concerns over internal controls,' according to the cities.

The center reopened soon after, but the cities still decided to hire a consultant to review the operation, located in Oregon City with about six employees.

The review for April 1, 2010, through April 30, 2011, did not find evidence of fraud but did note numerous weaknesses in financial control that could allow fraud to go undetected.

'While we did not find any direct evidence of misappropriation of financial resources, we found numerous instances of unsupported transactions where the ultimate purpose was left undeterminable and examples of purchases that are commonly made for home use for which there was no support for the business purpose or intended use,' stated the report, prepared by Nancy Young of Moss Adams LLP.

'The pure lack of supporting documentation is a 'red flag' to possible fraud.'

Dan Holladay is chairman of the advisory Clackamas Cable Access Board, which oversees the studio's policies and budget. He stressed that WFMC employees are not accused of theft or fraud.

'They've been working hard for a lot of years to provide public access television,' he said. 'They may not have had the experience to do the finances that were going through the studio, but there wasn't any wrongdoing. It was really more about inexperience and sloppy accounting than about fraud or abuse or theft.'

As of early this week, he added, the audit results were already outdated.

'Now that studio management has had a chance to give them additional documentation, I think it's going to come down to a few hundred dollars of missing receipts,' Holladay said.

Audit flags purchases, procedures

The $48,000 identified in the audit report as questionable transactions amounts to about 18 percent of the media center's expenditures for the current year, according to West Linn. Most were considered dubious because they lacked documentation showing their purpose, such as itemized receipts. Auditors checked purchases made with credit cards, checks and petty cash.

Credit card purchases without receipts included a $433.44 tab at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas along with payments for airport parking in Portland and cab fare in Las Vegas plus about $19 at the Las Vegas Flamingo Tropical Breeze. In all, that group of purchases totaled $553.15