FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2022
Mayor Calls On Council to Retract False Report
UPPER DARBY, PA: On September 14, 2022, Council voted to approve the final report of Chris Boggs, which was not signed, authored, or presented with any CPA and/or any person with municipal accounting experience whatsoever. One week later, well respected municipal finance expert, Donna Stillwell, CPA (certified public accountant), CFE (certified fraud examiner) of Brinker Simpson, presented a report which pointed out major fundamental errors in the Boggs report, undermining the credibility of the entire report. Today, Mayor Keffer is calling on Council to retract their seal of approval for the false report and move forward to heal and improve the community.
Ms. Stilwell’s findings are as follows:
Claim 1: Unauthorized Use of ARPA Funds:
Proved false by: Boggs’ entire report uses the concept of “First in, First Out.” On September 21st, the so-called accounting method according to Boggs of “first in, first out” used to get to this conclusion of spent ARPA funds is “not a real accounting methodology,” according to Donna Stilwell of Brinker Simpson. This is also supported by Marcum - a top national CPA (Certified Public Accountant) firm engaged to investigate claims made by Council regarding ARPA funds - who stated that they had performed analyses of the actual bank balances of general fund bank accounts comparing them to the ARP funds from December 1, 2021 through February 7, 2022 and determined that the actual bank balances exceeded the ARP funds at all times.
Claim 2: The Administration used restricted funds to make their representation of February 7, 2022 that all the ARPA proceeds were in their own PLGIT account.
Proved false by: This claim is highly predicated on the claims pertaining to the Highway and Liquid fuels restricted accounts. On September 21st, Stilwell described this particular section of the Boggs report as, “really very wrong.” “The Wells Fargo account and Santander account referenced by Boggs were not liquid fuels funds,” she said. “Those are deposited from PENNDOT into the TD bank account. The money in those other accounts came from various grant or Aqua reimbursements. That is general fund money and not liquid fuels.” Stilwell went on to specify that “nobody violated state laws,” as Boggs’ report implies. The liquid fuels fund was audited in 2021 in accordance with state requirements which is available on the PENNDOT website.
This is further backed by the Marcum report that details clearly the transactions that took place to segregate the ARPA Funds - which is not required by federal law under the Final Rule - at Council’s request. “The PLGIT ARP account x5050 was opened on February 4, 2022 with transfers from the PLGIT general fund account x5013 totaling $13,581,101.21. Additionally, the following transfers into the PLGIT ARP account x5050 were made on February 7, 2022:
$3,576,006.34 was transferred from the WF general fund account x9773;
$390,000.00 was transferred from the Citizens Bank24 general fund account x9157; and
$3,333,861.45 was transferred from the Santander general fund account x5237.
The above transactions brought the balance in the PLGIT ARP account x5050 to $20,880,969.”
All of the transfers detailed here clearly originate from general fund accounts which, by their nature, do not contain restricted funds.
Claim 3: The Administration violated the UDT Home Rule Charter by not keeping distinct bank accounts of all sums received by taxes and other sources.
Proved False By: The section of the Home Rule Charter cited by Boggs reads “keep distinct accounts of all sums received.” Due to Boggs lack of understanding of municipal finance, he believes accounts means bank accounts when the actual definition of accounts means a “record or statement of financial expenditure and receipts.” As shown by his own report and Marcum’s, Upper Darby does keep a distinct accounting of all incoming revenue.
The idea of commingling revenue funds is also an accepted practice in municipal government. As Donna Stilwell explained on the 21s, this accepted practice in larger municipalities is called “consolidated cash.” “They put all their money in one account,” said Stilwell, “and then the general ledger deciphers what is in that account.” This is a practice used by cities such as Scranton and Philadelphia.
On September 21st, Donna Stilwell clarified the US Treasury never required separation of funds. “It was not a requirement,” Stilwell stated. This was clarified previously in the Marcum report and is stated clearly in the Treasury’s own “final rule” which contains all rules and regulations for the ARPA funding. Commingling of ARPA funds is a nonissue which has been stated now by two highly respected accounting firms and the federal government themselves.
Claim 4: The Administration violated the UDT Home Rule Charter by over spending the budget by $1.7 million.
Proved false by: According to Stilwell, taken in its best light, the statement is “premature.” Stilwell went on to indicate that the audited financials will likely show a surplus but even if the audited financials support Boggs premature conclusion, that amounts to nothing more than a 1.9% deficit. “That’s what we’re here arguing about today, 1.9%. From an accounting standpoint, that is a very immaterial number,” Stilwell said.
Claim 5: The Administration violated Federal Law when they submitted a false certification to the Federal Government.
Proven false by: Boggs claim here is built on a false foundation due to his lack of understanding of municipal finances with regards to the Liquid fuels funds mentioned in claim 2. He also believed that payroll funds were restricted accounts when making this erroneous claim, again showing a lack of understanding of normal internal controls in municipal government.
His report ultimately confirms that no money was ever missing and that the money was not spent on pension obligations, as previously stated by Vice-President Councilor Laura Wentz. Two reports, one by a highly credible accounting firm Marcum, now conclude that no money was missing.
Due to these clear inaccuracies, Mayor Keffer is calling on Council to revoke their vote and heal the community. “We have clear evidence that this report is full of falsehoods and misinformation,” said Keffer. “To back a report that is so obviously wrong is damaging to this community. It’s time to heal the divide that began months ago with these false claims and move on towards doing the work for Upper Darby.”