City Comptroller Mark Schroeder says it's well and good that the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has found a cheaper way to buy rock salt. It would be better if the authority had the auditors to say where the rest of its millions of dollars are going.
BMHA Acting Executive Director Gillian Brown was before the Common Council Finance Committee Tuesday to talk about changes being made inside the agency. He said a new process for buying rock salt from the city shows there can be changes.
However, rock salt is just a small part of how the authority buys everything and from whom. There are millions of dollar at stake, as the city's network of public housing is operated, maintained and improved without much analysis of where the cash goes.
The committee was more interested in Schroeder's proposal for an audit of the BMHA, something he has been pushing against the opposition of Brown and Mayor Byron Brown. The mayor appoints most of the members of the authority board.
"There has not been an internal audit function at the BMHA in six years," Schroeder said. "I'd like to know how they explained that. They're explaining rock salt for $3,500, but they should explain why they do not have an internal audit function."
Schroeder said the media has become auditors.
"They are investigating this situation within the BMHA and it's almost like the reporters are doing a mini-audit, of which I appreciate," Schroeder said. "And, so, it's concerning to me the BMHA I've known for some time, it is the Wild, Wild West and they need to be tamed."
Schroeder said he did the same in 2012 when he forced the Council to have controls on how it spent discretionary money, saying that also had been the Wild, Wild West.
"The City of Buffalo, then, might be in the situation where they would have to pay for it, but at the end of the day, it needs to be done," he said, "and it will set the pace for the future, so that the BMHA is operating properly for the tenants and, most importantly, for the tenants and the taxpayers."