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Hopewell issued next steps to resolving years' worth of missing, late financial records

A large, lit-up  sculpture of the letter "H"
Floyd Lark
Creative Commons 4.0
The "Big H" sculpture stand along Route 10 in Hopewell.

Finance Secretary Stephen Cummings called the city's current position "a five-alarm fire."

On Tuesday, the City of Hopewell held a special meeting to address its options after years of unfinished or late audits from 2015 onward.

Due to those missing or incomplete records, the city cannot currently provide bonds for capital improvements, as first reported by The Progress-Index.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration hired an accounting firm for Hopewell to help the city sift through years’ worth of unfinished audits. During Tuesday's meeting, city councilors received dozens of recommendations from Alvarez and Marsal for correcting the books.

As State Finance Secretary Stephen Cummings told Hopewell councilors Tuesday, the situation “has been burning at a five-alarm level for a long time.”

The reasoning behind those years' worth of missing or late audits was not immediately clear. Councilor Brenda Pelham attributed the problems to potential inexperience within the finance team and a lack of accountability. Vice Mayor Jasmine Gore cited a lack of resources from Hopewell's City Council.

At Tuesday's meeting, representatives from the accounting firm Alvarez and Marsal also recommended the creation of two teams: One focused on reconciling prior years' finances, and a second to plan and execute current and future audits.

Hopewell's fiscal 2024 budget has not been finalized; one of the recommendations out of Tuesday's meetings requested that city councilors address some of the immediate steps in the budget proposal.

Virginia's current fiscal year ends June 30.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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