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IRS audit results still under wraps

By TOM STAUSS/Publisher 1/14/2006

Rumors are flying every which way, but OPA officials elected and otherwise aren’t deviating from their pledge not to reveal the results of the recent IRS audit, other than to confirm that the IRS auditor has made a determination that isn’t good news for the OPA or a clean bill of operational health.

What the issues are, or how much money may be involved, isn’t being revealed and won’t be, not until and unless the issues result in some official adverse determination by the agency that could then be appealed. That comes from OPA General Manager Dave Ferguson, who confirmed reports that the matter has been referred to the OPA accounting firm, Trice Geary in Salisbury.

Ferguson said the IRS auditor has said that he could be convinced that the OPA’s position on the matter at issue is correct. Ferguson said the accounting firm, which does the OPA audit each year in conformance with standard accounting practices, will do the negotiating with the IRS auditor.

Last fall, Ferguson told a reporter that he didn’t think the IRS auditor would come up with much, and in that sense the more recent developments had to be a disappointment.

But whether there will be any financial or operational impact on the OPA remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the late OPA director Al Wylie’s ghost has vacated the OPA administrative offices and has taken up residence in Trice Geary’s Salisbury offices.

Wylie, as some may recall, often predicted trouble for the OPA if the feds came calling, and his prediction, to some extent at least, came true. Wylie, when he served on the board before his passing, played the role of iconoclast and scold and thorn, a one-person minority often out of synch with colleagues and proud of it. In more recent years, that role was taken up by director Mark Venit, who has mellowed with service, and now seems to be filled by Janet Kelley, who was elected last summer by people opposed to the building of a new community center.

Whether the non-disclosed issue with the IRS is in the areas Wylie predicted hasn’t been revealed publicly, and perhaps the issue will go away quietly. But if not, the OPA would be well advised to come clean about the issue or issues involved before leaks, rumors or bad reporting fill the vacuum.

Uploaded: 1/19/2006