Omaha Public Radio News
Fri October 29, 2010
Report shows financial irregularities in Omaha Fire Department
By Katie Knapp Schubert
Omaha, NE – A report from the Nebraska State Auditor's Office shows more than three years of financial irregularities in the Omaha Fire Department.
State Auditor Mike Foley released the results at a news conference Thursday. Among the findings are that the Kloewer Fund, set up for donations, had limited documentation showing how the money was used. Also, some funds deposited into the Kloewer account should have been directed to other city funds. The report is based on records from January 2007 to June 2010.
No reconciling or review of the Fire Department's day books, which log firefighters' hours, were done. Foley also noted that the personnel reports for so-called "Bureau" employees, who are salaried, failed to reflect actual hours worked.
"Generally speaking, we don't keep schedules for people that are not on an hourly basis. And that's what the Bureau people are, they work basically four ten-hour days a week and they keep a regular schedule just like you and I do, and so we hadn't been keeping schedules on those," according to City Finance Director Pam Spaccarotella. "We'll start keeping schedules on those, and we'll try to put in a little bit more internal control with respect to who's on and who's off and maybe they did some training during their days off, and things of that nature."
Foley says his office couldn't determine if union records were accurate because officials from the Fire Union refused to answer questions. The Auditor's report looked at whether union leave was being properly recorded. An audit of the Fire Department's payroll system won't be done at this time because of inadequate records.
The full report is available at http://www.auditors.state.ne.us/local/pdfSearch/PDF/2010_Omaha_Fire.pdf