Auditor: Baltimore hasn't kept track of millions in grant money. (Again) | 3/27/2018 | Staff
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Baltimore’s top elected officials expressed frustration Wednesday that city government agencies have failed — yet again — to properly account for how they spent grant dollars.

A new audit of how the city manages millions of dollars in state and federal grants has come to the same conclusion that previous examinations have: Grant money coming into government coffers is not balancing out with what city agencies are spending.

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“The city is not able to establish accurate balances of grant accounts,” city Auditor Audrey Askew told Baltimore’s spending panel Wednesday.

One possible result, Askew said: “The city could lose its much-needed [grant] funding.”

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And that’s a lot of money. The city receives nearly $448 million in grants, or about 16 percent of its $2.8 billion budget.

City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young expressed outrage over the findings, arguing that grant management problems should have been fixed by now.

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“I don’t understand how we can have a problem with grants,” said Young, a member of the spending board. “That has to really stop. If the grants don’t add up … the federal government is going to come and they’re going to want their money. We’re going to owe thousands, maybe millions of dollars.”

Baltimore’s problem with tracking grant money has existed for years. Several previous examinations have found that city officials have failed to properly account for millions of dollars in grant funds. Each time finance officials have pledged to fix the issues, as they did on Wednesday.

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Finance Director Henry Raymond told the Board of Estimates that he has appointed employees to oversee grant management and that the problem would not be repeated next year.

The unbalanced grant ledgers in the last fiscal year are an accounting issue, he said, not the result of waste or abuse.

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“We’re training agencies on how to properly use budget account numbers,” Raymond said....
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