CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A city of Cincinnati audit released Tuesday on the Metropolitan Sewer District uncovered a system rife with problems and lack of oversight.
"Our investigation brought to light several areas of concern and control weaknesses regarding professional services, vendor authorization, selection, compensation and scope of services," reads the audit's executive summary.
The city conducted its own audit after the Cincinnati Enquirer reported earlier this year that the sewer district spent hundreds of millions of public dollars with little or no oversight at a time when residents' sewer rates have risen steadily.
After a 13 week investigation, the review looked at three areas.
- Mismanagement, lack of accountability, and lack of oversight with respect to the budget and contracting;
- Widespread use of consultants to fill roles more appropriately filled by city employees;
- Potential misuse of ratepayer or city funds for the purchase and delivery of professional services.
Those allegations of misuse are tied to various things including, MSD allegedly spent $200,000 more than they needed to on an internship program. And within that program, investigators found various cases of nepotism where city officials broke ethics laws and gave positions to their children or grandchildren.
"This report bolsters our efforts to ensure more and effective and efficient MSD which is what our ratepayers and residents deserve and demand," said City Manager Harry Black.
In addition, Black says MSD didn't use competitive bidding, which led to hired companies doing millions of dollars of work that was totally unrelated to the original contract.
Black said that during the time of these allegations, there was little to no oversight from former City Manager Milton Dahoney, and former Mayor Mark Mallory.
In a memo to Cincinnati City Council, Black said "The City Administration has preliminarily reviewed these findings and intends to implement any and all recommendations stemming from this report. Some recommendations have already been implemented."