By ERIC TICHY
A fiscal monitoring review of a $500,000 grant given to the City of Warren has been completed by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
When the report may actually be released, however, is another question.
The grant, which was provided to the Allegheny Center for the Arts building project, was supposed to be used to rehabilitate the former Roberti Building on Liberty Street in Warren. It would then be repaid to the city from rental payments from tenants in that building. The city would then use the repaid funds to create a revolving loan pool for other economic development projects in the city.
However, the renovations were never finished, because the contractor, Eriez Construction of Erie, stopped receiving payments. The company currently holds a mechanic's lien on the property.
The monitoring review, which DCED officials say is "not an audit," was initiated after state officials noted "significant ambiguities" in the handling of funds for a Liberty Street arts building project.
The project ran dry of funds and currently remains in limbo.
"The Financial Management Center, monitoring and report staff within the DCED conducted the fiscal monitoring review," said Theresa Elliot, DCED deputy press secretary.
Elliot could not provide a specific date when the report would be released, stating simply, "The monitoring report is being drafted."
City Manager Jim Nelles said an official from the DCED was in the city last Tuesday seeking additional information on the $500,000 grant. He said the review "went well," and was told a report could be released in as little as two weeks.
"This is all we know at this time," Nelles said Thursday. "The guy who conducted the review asked for some additional information and we were able to get that for him."
Nelles said he would comment further when the report is made public.
"The fiscal monitoring report will contain information such as whether the funds provided to the City of Warren were used as outlined in the budget narrative for each grant," Elliot said.
Although city officials have referred to the review as an audit, Elliot clarified the DCED's description of the procedure as a fiscal monitoring report.
And audit, she said, "is a more detailed review of activity and is usually completed by a CPA in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.
"DCED wanted to perform a fiscal monitoring review since we had internal staff that would be able to complete the work. This would provide DCED with an understanding of the fiscal situation at the City of Warren and then we could determine if an audit needed to be performed," she said.
"The purpose of the fiscal monitoring is to analyze existing operations, systems and procedures for deficiencies and/or determine financial impact and feasibility of programs," she said. "The fiscal monitor reviews internal controls, compliance with contract, and reviews supporting documentation for expenditures."