City financial accounting must improve, quickly

You would think getting a monthly financial report for the city of williamsport would be a no-brainer for City Council’s finance committee.

Not so fast.

Councilwoman Liz Miele, head of council’s finance committee, said recently she has not received a finance statement since the end of 2018.

She expressed her unhappiness at a meeting of the committee and got no disagreement from William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director.

Producing such statements should be routine for the city finance department. Those statements also are critical financial snapshots that need to be up to date, given the city’s precarious budget situation that everyone acknowledges.

The discussion at the finance committee meeting seemed to center on whether a recently hired, part-time employee was doing adequate bookkeeping and whether that position alone is enough for the finance department to keep pace with the city’s books.

Private businesses struggle all the time with shifting personnel responsibilities amid consolidations, cutbacks and limited numbers of employees. They find a way to solve their problems.

City government needs to do the same.

Both council and the administration need to be aware almost on a daily basis of the exact status of the city’s finances. Whatever needs corrected to get to that place needs to be done posthaste.