Campbell Can't Find Surplus White Left Behind

CLEVELAND (AP) - Mayor Jane Campbell (pictured, right) says she can't find the $11.8 million surplus that former Mayor Michael R. White said he was leaving behind.

Campbell said her finance team has been frustrated by the White administration's poor bookkeeping.

"They are having a real hard time getting the same number twice," Campbell said. "There's no evidence that we're in a good cash position."

On Jan. 3, White announced in his final news conference that the city had an $11.8 million carryover balance for 2002. But Campbell's team can't find that number on any piece of paper in the finance department.

White, who is vacationing in Hawaii, could not be reached for comment. A message seeking comment was left at his home Tuesday. His former spokeswoman, Della Homenik, did not return a phone call to The Plain Dealer.

Campbell has ordered her department heads to prepare two budgets each for 2002. One would cut spending by 10 percent, the other by 15 percent. Campbell must present a budget to City Council by Feb. 1.

A quirk of the calendar gives Cleveland an extra pay period for city employees this year, meaning an extra cost exceeding $10 million. Retroactive pay increases for public safety forces will require millions more.

"What we know is it's not going to be pretty," she said.

To reach a bottom line for 2001, Campbell has asked her finance team to visit each city department and add up outstanding bills. She will subtract that total from the city's bank balance to determine whether the city had a surplus or a deficit.

Campbell already knows the law department owes about $250,000 to private law firms for 2001 bills.

Campbell said she has arranged for state Auditor Jim Petro to study the finance department and suggest reforms to avoid future confusion.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)