The fiscal monitoring review conducted by the state Department of Community and Economic Development on the $500,000 anchor building grant issued on the failed ACA project in downtown Warren is classified.
And cityofficials aren't going to release it.
Prior to Monday's city council meeting, Teena Leary, the city's Right-to-Know officer, indicated that the report is "covered under an exemption right now" and is thus not required to be released publicly.
During the meeting, Councilman Sam Harvey further clarified the issue from council's perspective.
"The report is part of an ongoing investigation," Harvey said. "We are required to keep it confidential. At some point when the investigation is concluded, it will be a public document. City council does not have the ability to release the report."
The Times Observer filed a Right-to-Know request with DCED on June 13 and with the City of Warren on Monday in attempts to procure copies of the review.
DCED and the city have five business days to make a determination whether to approve or deny the request.
Melissa Melewsky, a media law attorney with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, indicated that an ongoing investigation is "the most likely exemption to limit access." However, she said, "If an exemption applies making a record non-public, the Right-to-Know Law allows agencies to release the record anyway if it serves the public interest and release is not prohibited by other law, court order or privilege.
"I'm not aware of any other laws, court orders or privileges that would apply, hence DCED and the city could release the record but choose not to."
Mayor Mark Phillips announced at the beginning of the meeting that council met in executive session immediately prior to Monday's meeting to discuss, in part, "litigation issues regarding GRO-Warren and DCED."
On Tuesday, Acting City Manager Mary Ann Nau said in an email that "currently, litigation has not been filed."
She added, "City Council is in the process of scheduling a special meeting to discuss possible action."
On Monday, DCED Deputy Press Secretary Theresa Elliott explained that a fiscal monitoring review is not an audit.
"A fiscal monitoring review is performed by DCED staff to ensure compliance with contracts and DCED guidelines and program regulations," Elliott said in an email. "The purpose of the financial review is to analyze existing financial operations, systems and procedures for deficiencies and/or determine financial impact and feasibility of programs. The fiscal monitor reviews internal controls, compliance with contract, and supporting documentation for expenditures."
That differs from an audit which "is required under our normal program procedures for contracts of $100,000 or more," Elliott said, indicating than an audit, traditionally completed by a certified public accountant, "is a more detailed examination of activity."