The newest delay in the oft-postponed 2003 audit has elicited heightened criticisms from city officials.

The burden of producing a certified set of financial statements is on the outside auditors at KPMG, they said, because the city has jumped through every hoop presented to it since the firm took over the assignment nearly three years ago. The firm’s objections were “wishy-washy,” Chief Financial Officer Jay Goldstone said yesterday.

But City Councilwoman Donna Frye begged to differ in a story about the audit delays a few weeks ago, pointing to a list of 40 questions and criticisms that she submitted in November about a draft of the city’s financial statements prepared by Goldstone’s staff, weeks after he accused KPMG of lagging.

In an e-mail this morning, Goldstone said that KPMG’s withholding of its certification letter were not a result of the comments Frye or other council members made about his internal audit staff’s work.

Here’s Goldstone’s response:

Councilmember Frye’s questions/concerns have nothing to do with the current situation. As a matter of fact, most of the questions asked for clarification on the information. Others resulted in staff making some wording changes to the notes. This is exactly what we were looking for when we went forward to Council at that time. Council President Peters had some comments and suggestions also, that we reviewed and in some instances incorporated into the next version.

I can assure you that the kind of input received from all Council Members had no impact on where we are today with KPMG not being ready to release its opinion letter.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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