Grove City finances will face more scrutiny if the revisions to the city's audit committee have their intended effect.

Grove City finances will face more scrutiny if the revisions to the city's audit committee have their intended effect.

City council on March 21 voted 3-2 to approve changes intended to strengthen the audit committee's oversight of city finances.

The amendment requires the audit committee to include at least one certified professional accountant and two others with some financial background.

The amendment also adds a standard of expected ethics. It requires the committee to prepare reports to council based on annual state audits and to respond to management letters from the state auditor. In addition, the audit committee will forward the minutes of its proceedings to the clerk of council, who will be an ex-officio committee member.

Council president Ted Berry and council member Steve Bennett introduced the resolution at the March 7 meeting.

Voting was delayed after mayor Richard "Ike" Stage asked that the resolution include the statement, "The annual audit performed by the auditor of state is to reasonably assure the financial statements are free of material misstatement with limited consideration of internal controls."

At the March 21 meeting, council member Maria Klemack-McGraw joined Bennett and Berry in approving the legislation without Stage's addition. Gregory Grinch and Melissa Albright voted against the change.

"The state audits are meaningless to me at this point in time, because ... they say, 'We're going to audit, but we're not guaranteeing anything," Albright said, questioning whether the city might be better off hiring an outside company for annual audits.

"I think we're still premature in passing this at this point in time," she said.

Grinch agreed, saying special audits requested by the city to investigate the recent tax issues haven't been completed.

Stage said he had no problem recommending approval of the resolution as presented Monday, even without the addition about the state auditor.

Council members also split their vote 3-2 in favor of a resolution authorizing the cleanup of the former lumberyard site. Grinch and Albright voted against the resolution.

"It's one thing to clean up the gravel and debris, but to turn it into a temporary park or a green setting (is another)," Grinch said.

The city has prepared a request for proposals in hopes of attracting private developers to the town center.

Grinch said spending money to turn the lumberyard behind City Hall into a temporary park might be a waste if a developer chooses to build there.

"I don't want to waste taxpayers' money. Let's wait and see what comes in, and then proceed," he said.

Bennett said the parcel is in violation of city code.

"There's not another property in Grove City that would be allowed to do what we did back there," he said. "'Do as I say and not as I do' is not appropriate for a governmental agency."

City administrator Phil Honsey said the engineer's estimate for what's suggested in the resolution is $120,000.