National News

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful wrongfully billed city for $19.6K, audit finds

Posted August 2

— A city audit found Keep Cincinnati Beautiful wrongfully billed the City of Cincinnati $19,600.

In May, City Manager Harry Black announced the city planned to audit Keep Cincinnati Beautiful at the request of the organization's board chair.

Black released the audit results Wednesday; namely, the internal audit identified $19,600 of services improperly paid to Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.

Of that amount, the audit found $15,707.65 of billed, paid and "not performed and redundant" expenses for projects and services, according to a memo from Black. Also found was $3,924.96 paid due to "misrepresentation of hours worked" on Executive Director Mary Huttlinger's timesheet.

Huttlinger has since resigned as executive director of Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.

Black said he was approached by Alan Lindner, Chair of the Board for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, in May with concerns about "invoicing irregularities" and wanted the city's assistance to analyze transactions between the city and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful from 2016 to present day.

"The audit findings highlight a lack of KCB internal controls, specifically the absence of a policy and procedure manual," Black wrote in a memo to City Council about the audit.

The audit found the city had been over-billed by at least $14,128 for its share of a program that uses the Hamilton County Sheriff's Inmate Program to pick up litter in the city and the county.

The audit also found that the nonprofit's former director took more sick and vacation time than she was allowed.

"During the course of the audit, multiple KCB staff members communicated that the director was often absent from the office ... there were several instances in which the director articulated to staff she was attending meetings offsite, although other individuals present at the offsite meetings relayed the director was not present," according to the audit, which also stated it was unable to confirm these allegations.

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful was created in 1978 to address urban blight in the city's core. The nonprofit received approximately $1 million in city funds in 2016 and 2017.

A 21-member board provides oversight of the nonprofit, which employs nine and relieves heavily on volunteers.

Going forward, the city will develop performance metrics and standards for all outside groups that receive city money, including Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, "to ensure performance outcomes are clearly defined and met," Black wrote.

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