Crusader Staff Report
Angelia Hayes, Gary’s Controller was let go several weeks ago after failing to provide accurate information on the city’s financial condition during the coronavirus pandemic, said Mayor Jerome Prince in a news report.
Prince made the announcement reportedly before a live meeting on Zoom and Facebook Live with the Gary Common Council, which had asked for a status update on the city’s finances and how Gary might be impacted by the coronavirus.
Hayes, who served as Controller under former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, was let go when Prince reportedly said it became apparent that Hayes was not able to provide the information about the status of the city’s finances. Prince reportedly made the request prior to taking office January 1.
Arlene Colvin, who served as the city’s chief of staff, was named Interim Controller. The city reportedly will conduct a nationwide search for Hayes’ replacement after Gary’s financial situation can be determined.
In the meantime, Prince has reportedly contracted with the municipal accounting firm Cender & Co., to straighten out the city’s finances. The firm reportedly had an existing professional services contract with the city. On April 29, the Board of Public Works and Safety approved an amendment to Cender & Co.’s contract to include the new accounting work. Cender & Co. will be paid with funds from Hayes’ cancelled contract.
It is unclear how long Hayes has served as the city’s Controller.
Prince in the Post Tribune said none of the problems with Hayes’ work were criminal.
“I understand this is challenging information for her and in some instances she previously may not have had the resources she needed,”Prince told the Post Tribune. “I do not know what the conditions were under the former administration. I gave her every opportunity to at least provide what I thought I needed for moving the city forward in terms of financing.”
Prince reportedly said he will seek support to get a full audit of the city’s finances. Prince told the Post-Tribune that the city has “poor financial reporting systems.”
“When I walked into the office, bank reconciliations were about eight months behind,” Prince said. “No adequate tracking systems for how much revenue is coming in and going out were in place,” he continued. “The ultimate goal is to build a city that will draw in more business and jobs and reverse the population decline,” Prince said.