The San Juan Daily Star
Comptroller finds wasteful spending, multiple deficiencies in Corozal operations
By The Star Staff
The Comptroller of Puerto Rico issued a qualified opinion Monday on the fiscal operations of the Municipality of Corozal.
A qualified opinion is issued when individual or aggregate lack of compliances are significant, but not pervasive.
The report revealed that the central-eastern municipality paid $140,547 for an electricity generator, a truck, tiles and materials that have not been used. The generator purchased for use by the San Rafael Cinema Theater was never installed and the hook truck purchased at an auction in Orlando, Florida was never used as it was purchased with mechanical damage and is in a state of abandonment.
In addition, some steel beams and plates acquired to rebuild the roof of the municipal Public Works Transportation area are out in the open and unused, 14 acrylic plates meant to serve as a COVID-19 protective shield for desks are stored in a corridor, and marble tiles for the mayor’s office were not installed and some were broken.
“This situation of investing in resources that have not been useful is attributed to the fact that the mayors and directors of Public Works in office did not protect the interests of the Municipality,” says the statement from the Office of the Comptroller.
The audit of eight findings indicates that the municipality specified makes and models in the requisition of four vehicles for $90,851 in September 2020 with funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly known as the CARES Act. That situation is contrary to the Code of Federal Regulations which states that transactions must be conducted in a manner that provides full and open competition.
The auditors found multiple administrative deficiencies such as a payment of $3,600 to install air conditioners before receiving the service, payment of $42,163 without the invoices of the suppliers, and the payment of $1,261 for finance charges to the credit card assigned to the mayor. Similar situations had been pointed out in Report M-20-31 of May 27, 2020.
As of June 29, 2021, the Municipality of Corozal had not cashed checks for $20,523 that had been overdue for more than nine years for ambulance services provided by the Municipal Office for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration. In addition, uncashed checks or invoices without explanation of the work carried out were identified.
“This lack of control leads to irregularities and the loss of resources,” the qualified opinion said.
The report further reveals that the municipality kept 11 special fund bank accounts for $325,795 inactive for more than three years. In addition, the reconciliations of the 28 active bank accounts were carried out with delays of up to three years. Such situations deprive the municipality of economic resources that can be reprogrammed and prevent maintaining reliable financial information, as indicated.