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- Paris Flash
Rebecca Clifford, chairperson of the Paris Economic Development Corporation, asked the Paris City Council on Monday for an opportunity to address the council at its next meeting concerning a citizen’s complaint she gave the council a “misleading and unethical” report.
Mayor AJ Hashmi asked City Manager John Godwin to honor her request.
“I would like to go over everything. I will go through, line by line, and I will show the council where I got every detail,” Clifford said of a Sept. 9 report to the council in which she compared the PEDC’s annual expenditures for administration and promotions, compared to other Texas cities.
Businessman Don “Pinky” Wilson, a former city councilman, wrote a letter to all seven council members Sunday afternoon. He said he had met with the mayor personally and again by phone “several times during the past four weeks to request that Clifford explain and disclose “the altered figures” in her report.
“I have received no response,” Wilson wrote.
His complaint concerns the spreadsheet comparison of the PEDC with other Type 4A economic development corporations around the state. Paris showed the highest percentage spent on personnel and administration.
Wilson said first of all, Clifford used operating expenditures as a percent of total income, rather than as a percent of sales tax revenue, which led to misleading percentages — apples vs. oranges.
Also, Wilson said, she took figures for the seven comparison cities directly from the state comptrollers “Texas Ahead” website, but did not use the numbers that Gene Anderson, City of Paris finance director, reported to the comptroller’s office regarding the PEDC.
Clifford altered six of the 10 Paris entries in her report, Wilson said.
Using her numbers, Clifford came out with 74 percent (instead of 57 percent) for the PEDC’s percentage of income spent on salaries and administration, Wilson said.
“In fiscal year 2012, PEDC spent more than any of these peers for personnel, administration and marketing in both absolute dollar amount as well as percentage of income,” she said during her Sept. 9 presentation.
“PEDC spent approximately $900,000, or 74 percent, of our current year’s income on these categories. No other city in our peer group spent more than 27 percent,” she said.
At the beginning of her presentation, Wilson wrote, Clifford gave her accounting education, professional credentials and work experience to add credibility to her presentation.
“Therefore, her report should be covered by the Public Accountants Code of Ethics,” Wilson said in his weekend letter to the council.
“This complaint is not about whether Gene Anderson’s figures in Texas Ahead are correct or Rebecca Clifford’s altered figures are correct,” Wilson said.
“The issue is a failure to disclose that the Paris figures published in Texas Ahead were altered, which resulted in a misleading and unethical report.”
Wilson quoted from the “Public Accountant’s Code of Ethics,” which states:
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra