In a KNWA investigative report, people in Gravette are concerned after the release of a recent city audit, citing inconsistencies in the budget.
Because the city has grown to become a first class city, similar to larger areas like Bentonville or Rogers, it’s now audited by the state.
The first financial report showed some things didn’t match up, and the timing of its release has some locals scratching their heads.
“It’s a topic that has been going around for quite sometime,” said resident Jack Hunter.
After a state audit, the financial records for the City of Gravette contained misstatements of funds and assets in amounts of over half a million dollars for 2016 alone.
Financial Director Carl Rabey said this was something the city wasn’t expecting to see.
“I don’t know what specifically happened, but there were a number of items that were posted to incorrect accounts or too incorrect funds,” Rabey said.
For many, the findings deserve an explanation from the city.
“I think there’s some pretty specific questions that deserve answers to those questions,” said Hunter.
“We need to hold our government representatives much more accountable to our funds, we need to expect explanations to where they are going,” said resident Micah Wallace.
While Rabey said the audit found no major issues of embezzlement or fraud, the city did have to take retroactive action to correct the issues.
“We had to reallocate or move that money that was sitting in the wrong fund and move it to the correct fund, we have physically moved that money,” Rabey said.
Aside from the misstatement of funds, another concern many are talking about is the timing of the audit’s release to the public. Many said they believe the findings were purposely held until after the midterm elections
“We have had city council meetings twice in October since the audit was released so im just wondering why it wasn’t released until after the elections,” Wallace said.
“The timing is suspect; the audit was actually dated Sept. 5, and the question is why did it take so long for it to come out,” Hunter said.
While the move may look suspicious, the city tells KNWA it had no control over when the audit was put out to the public.
“That is entirely untrue, that audit is released by the state legislative audit, we have not control over at,” Rabey said.
Moving forward as a class one city, Rabey and many others have described this as a growing pain for Gravette.
While questions may still loom, the city hopes it can reduce the issues on the next financial audit and clear any concerns from the public
“We have tightened up internal controls. We have created separation of duties and we are addressing all of the other concerns on an on going basis, ” Wallace said.
“After this, I really hope that people will pay a lot of attention to where that money is actually going,” Wallace said.
Now that Gravette has moved into a category first class city, the state will audit the financial budget every single year.