After being on the job only a few months, Hyattsville's city administrator, Jerry Schiro, wants out. Nine members of the Hyattsvlle City Council have signed on to call an emergency meeting tonight at 8 p.m. to discuss Schiro's plea to resign and to discuss problems with the financial management of the city.
Organizational disarray and the city's nearly three year delinquency in completing municipal audits are among the motivating factors behind Schiro's move, according to multiple sources on the Hyattsville City Council who declined to be identified, citing the sensitive nature of the discussions. As a result of the delinquencies in audits, according to multiple sources, Elaine Stookey's position as city treasurer is also in jeopardy, with some city council members considering moving to terminate her contract with the city.
"I did tender my resignation," said Jerry Schiro in an interview. Schiro was hired for the city's top administrative post back in April 2013. "At this juncture that's all I can say about it."
According to multiple sources within city government, there is a push to somehow convince Schiro to stay on the job.
Schiro confirmed that the audits are a factor in his decision to submit his resignation to the city council.
"I am very concerned about this. I am concerned that more progress hasn't been made in having this done," said Schiro. "It is something that is a serious matter for the city."
According to Schiro, November 1 will mark three straight fiscal years that the city has not completed an audit.
If a city or other government entity is behind on its audits, it risks losing access to a large number of county, state, and federal government funding sources and grants, according to Schiro.
"It could affect the city's bond rating, it could affect the ability to secure future grants if part of the grant is money to make sure it is spent appropriately," said Schiro.
The city of Hyattsville has had an independent auditing firm, Bethesda-based accounting firm Cohn Reznick, under contract for the last three years. Despite this, the city has not completed an audit in that time.
Schiro said the cause of the delinquency were "issues with getting the necessary information to the audit firm to conduct the audit."
Schiro said that there is no indication that the delay is the result of criminal activity.
Schiro acknowledged that the lack of a city administrator for nearly two years could have been one factor contributing to the delinquency in audits. In that time, Stookey served as acting city administrator from April 2012 to April 2013, in addition to performing her duties as city treasurer.
"The person who was responsible for it did have to wear other hats for a while and I'm sure that was a part of it," said Schiro in an interview. "
But Schiro cautioned that he had only limited firsthand experience in his short time so far with the city of Hyattsville.
"Having been here such a short period of time and not being aware that we were that far behind in our audits until recently, it's very difficult for me to say why this has happened. I have a lack of institutional knowledge to know why."
Attempts by Patch to reach Stookey by phone for comment were unsuccessful.
Mayor Marc Tartaro, who is not one of the signatories to the emergency city council meeting, praised Stookey's performance as City Treasurer.
"She's the best city treasurer that we've had since I've been on the council, I believe," said Tartaro in an interview. "I think there are, or there may have been some mitigating circumstances, looking backwards, with the situation. There probably were some corrective measures we should have done to not be in this situation."
Tartaro also said that the delinquency was not a criminal matter.
"I have no knowledge of any impropriety. That's not the issue," said Tartaro. "The issue is that they are late and they shouldn't be."
Council President Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1) said she was disappointed to see Schiro ask to resign.
"My immediate reaction is that it's unfortunate to see him leave," said Hollingsowrth. "I think he's done really good work for the city in the time he's been here. He's shown a level of attention to the job that has been lacking for some time."
Hollingsworth also said that she was looking forward to a speedy process to fill the vacancy left by Shiro's presumed departure.
Hollingsworth declined to discuss the particulars of Stookey's job performance.
"We're two years behind with audits, Two years." said Hollingsworth. "We have an issue with the city's audits and making sure we can get them completed by the end of the year."
Nine of the 11 members of Hyattsville's City Council have requested the emergency meeting, according to the agenda. Only Mayor Marc Tartaro and Councilor Edouard Haba (Ward 4) did not sign on to the measure.
The meeting agenda states that the city council will "receive information regarding, and to discuss, the financial management and audits of the City, to have a closed and open meeting regarding any City employee’s or City official’s management of the City’s finances and audits and to take all personnel and reorganization actions necessary to protect, and correct any deficiencies in, the management of the City’s finances and audits."
The meeting begins tonight at 8 p.m. at the Hyattsville Municipal Building at 4310 Gallatin Street in downtown Hyattsville. Watch it live here.