Pension fund auditor conplains of slow response

Jacksonville Police, Fire Pension Fund says first records turned over Thursday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Accusations are flying over an audit looking into how Jacksonville's Police and Fire Pension Fund spends money. In April, the City Council authorized paying $85,000 for an independent audit of the pension fund, but the company has reported that the pension fund board wasn't supplying the records needed.

When the auditor reported to City Auditor Carla Miller that the records were not being made available, he emailed council members that the job is not being done correctly.

"I think when you have the entire council voting for forensic audit and they put money there so that the taxpayers know how the Police and Fire Pension Fund has been expanding money, then you need to get the documents and get the answer to that question," Miller wrote.

That email caught the attention of all involved, and News4Jax was told the documents the auditor requested are beginning to arrive.

The executive director of the pension fund, John Keane, said they are complying with the request, but the amount of information requested is overwhelming.

"They sent an initial list for document to that would fill a panel truck -- going back to 1987," Keane said. "We have one person who can work on this part-time because she has many other duties. And, as we are pulling the records together, we are sending them over to the City Council auditor's office. (The) first wad went yesterday."

Keane said if anyone has questions about the delays, they should ask the City Council auditor, but the auditor said his office isn't the problem.

Councilman Bill Gulliford agreed that the pension fund needs more help.

"I don't think we anticipated the magnitude of information that he wanted and having the resources available to do it," Gulliford said. "I know that they are shorthanded now, supposedly."

Councilman John Crescimbeni said something is just not right.

"(It) doesn't look good to the public. That doesn't look good to me," Crescimbeni said. "I suspect there are problems over there, but when you put yourself in a position where you're not going to cooperate and deliver documents. It makes it even more suspicious."

Ted Siedel, with Benchmark Financial Service, confirmed Friday he is starting to receive some of the information requested, but said the fact that it has taken this long should send up a red flag.

There is currently no estimate for when the audit will be completed.

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