The recent Auditor General report that uncovered abuses of public money by Eastern Arizona College President Mark Bryce has spurred the Citizens Awareness Committee to request a look into the finances of both Eastern and Gila Community College.
“We believe these uncovered instances of abuse or improper reporting of public taxpayer monies could only be the tip of the iceberg,” read the letter, which the committee also sent to the governor, state attorney general and state Senator Sylvia Allen.
In February, an auditor general review revealed that Bryce had improperly borrowed $7,400 from Eastern and spent another $16,000 in violation of district policy, $4,000 of which may have constituted a gift of public money.
Gila contracts with Eastern for administrative and academic services because the college formed after the legislature set population and tax base thresholds that the county doesn’t meet.
Gila County cannot operate an independent college, but can run a so-called provisional district that contracts with another college to award diplomas.
“As citizens and taxpayers of Gila County, we believe your investigation was too limited, and if a comprehensive operation audit was undertaken, other abuses would surface,” the letter read.
As an example, the Internal Revenue Service is investigating personnel contracts for 2007 and 2008, according to the CAC letter.
According to e-mails received through a Freedom of Information Act request, the IRS has met with an Eastern official, asking him why the Globe campus dean was paid $35,000 on a 1099 form, in addition to her regular salary.
The CAC letter, sent in April, marks the second request to the Auditor General to examine Gila’s finances.
“This request is a little different,” said Jim Hippel, CAC co-chair. The first request asked the auditor to examine Eastern’s management of Gila’s funds. A financial audit director with the agency responded that his authority is limited to examining an entity’s financial transactions and accounts.
This request asks the auditor to conduct operations audits of both schools for the past three years.
Gila hasn’t been audited since fiscal year 2005. However, the auditor general is currently conducting an audit for fiscal year 2006.
Arizona Auditor General Financial Audit Director Jay Zsorey previously attributed the delay to Gila’s slowness in sending the agency financial information.
The auditor general does not skip years, Zsorey said, however the agency can conduct more than one audit in a year if the financial information becomes available.
The auditor general has not yet responded to the CAC letter.