For Immediate Release:
October 16, 2013
Contact: Harvey Rice
Butkovitz Questions Use of Residents’ Funds at Riverview Home
City Controller says $68,000 that should have been used for resident services
went instead to pay fines for violations
PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) Forensic Investigation of the Riverview Home Resident Account that uncovered $166,389 in questionable and improper payments during fiscal years 2011 and 2012, including more than $68,000 in fines.
The Riverview Home, a facility that primarily serves low-income senior citizens and those with mental disabilities, maintains a Residents’ Account. This account is comprised principally of residents’ social security and pension checks. It is to be used for room and board charges, as well as provide residents with money to purchase personal needs items.
Instead, the OSH management routinely directed expenditures from the Riverview resident account for payments such as health insurance premiums, medical service providers, welfare violations and fire drill violations.
“These disbursements were highly questionable and should not have been paid from the account,” said Butkovitz. “It’s disheartening to find that residents’ monies were expended for services that may not have benefited Riverview operations for all the residents.”
During fiscal year 2011, management approved payments from the account of more than $68,000 in fines to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for regulatory violations. This included $50,000 for repeated violations of fire drill regulations and $18,000 for recurring violations concerning incomplete medical records.
“These fines were a result of deficient operations by Riverview’s management,” said Butkovitz. “The payments should have been charged against the City’s general fund, not the residents’ personal accounts.”
In addition, more than $67,000 in disbursements was for the payments of health insurance premiums. When residents are admitted with healthcare insurance, Riverview, without the approval of the City’s Finance Office, continues to maintain that insurance coverage which is paid out of the funds that should have gone for the operation of Riverview.
Along with improper disbursements, the Controller’s investigation identified a $12,970 shortage in the Residents’ Account. This was a result of poor recordkeeping of account transactions and errors for reconciling the bank account. Of the total shortage, $1,545 still remained unaccounted for through the end of the investigation.
“Our findings suggest that procedures to ensure the prevention and detection of mistakes and theft of the funds were severely deficient,” said Butkovitz.
According to Butkovitz, OSH management needs to arrange for an accountant to properly establish the Residents’ Accounts in QuickBooks and then provide fiscal staff with the appropriate training. It also needs to develop and implement a memorandum of understanding with the City’s Finance Office defining the allowable direct disbursements from residents’ funds.
“It is essential to take immediate corrective action to prevent any further shortages.”
Riverview Home: The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing manages the facility located at 7979 State Road, 19136, which at the time of the Controller’s investigation had 89 residents. It serves anyone over the age of 18, but especially the elderly, having a low income, and with physical or mental disabilities requiring assistance in daily living. Residents pay a monthly room and board charge based on their personal income.