The city of Durango got walloped by all of the complications that have arisen from the coronavirus pandemic, including the need to lead on public health policy such as requiring masks, manage the economic hardship caused by the loss of business and tax revenue to its own operations and the lives of Durangoans, and hire a new city manager to replace Ron LeBlanc, who departed suddenly 10 months ago. It is perhaps less fortunate than other similarly situated cities because of that last point.
City Council would have needed to close its LeBlanc chapter whether or not the pandemic came. When, three weeks ago, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation concluded more than $700,000 had been stolen from the city over two decades by its finance director, who resigned several weeks after LeBlanc left, examining the city’s recent past with an eye to ensuring better governance in the future became even more pressing.
On Tuesday, City Council was briefed about an internal forensic audit, which could cost up to $25,000, the Herald reported (“Stung by embezzlement, city considers internal financial control options,” July 28).
This sounds like a regrettably necessary expense.
Council also heard about an examination of internal controls, which was estimated to cost $30,000 and would be less thorough than an audit, which makes it a less attractive choice. We hope there will be an examination of internal controls regardlessly. That should yield information the next city manager will need.
One councilor at this week’s study session noted the mess and an audit are traumatic for City Council and the community. That may be, and this story may be more embarrassing before it is done – which is why we would like to get on with it now so that one day we can consider big, constructive things again with nothing but clear skies above.