“We didn’t start the fire. No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it” are lyrics from a Billy Joel song. Right now, the city of Columbus is collectively trying to fight the fire in the financial department. The city has great hope that the new chief financial officer, who certainly didn’t start the fire, can untangle the web of financial deceit and ineptitude that has been allowed to burn untended for too long.
The Dispatch article on April 9, 2022, aptly analogized the finances of the city as a house fire. The article presented the case that if an audit were to be conducted now it would only point out the obvious, the house is on fire. Some of that is correct. From the outside looking in, it does appear the city is in a fully engulfed, five-alarm situation. It is time to put out the figurative fire.
Once that fire is out however, there will need to be an investigation. How did the fire start? Who started it? Was it an accident or arson? What can be salvaged and what needs to go to the dump? Those are all important questions to answer. Oddly, one area to look for the start of the figurative fire, may be the new fire station. Other areas include the confessed embezzlement, amphitheater and federal and state grant programs.
The saying “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” also comes to mind. In the city of Columbus, there has been a lot of smoke around some of the entrenched consultants, chiefs and council members. Maybe, when the fire is out and the smoke clears, we will see who has been holding the matchbook.
Editor’s note: The letter writer is a CPA and founder of A Better Columbus.
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