The March 22 Sun article "State audit questions $200,000 payment to BCCC" cites an assertion by Department of Legislative Services (DLS) auditors that the college received a "potentially questionable" payment from a company that was leasing space to the BCCC Life Sciences Institute at the University of Maryland Baltimore BioPark. The audit finding specifically states that "BCCC could not adequately explain the $200,000 payment, and in addition, it was not disclosed to the Department of General Services (DGS) or the Board of Public Works (BPW)."
As documented in the college's response to the audit, the $200,000 was clearly an unrestricted contribution, from Wexford Science and Technology to the college, and was in no way connected to the construction or lease costs of the project. Moreover, theUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore(UMB), not BCCC, solicited the contribution from Wexford.
Upon receipt, the Wexford check was deposited into the college's account and appropriately annotated in the general ledger and financial statements. Since the contribution was unrestricted, the college held it for future furniture, fixture or equipment needs that might occur at the Life Sciences Institute. After almost seven months, the college requested that the State General Accounting Division (GAD) issue a check for a portion of the funds to the BCCC Foundation, Inc. so the money could be used for student scholarships. Later, the college requested the GAD issue another check to the Foundation for the remainder of the contribution for the same purpose. It is important to note that both the college and the BCCC Foundation's financial records were independently audited recently, and both reports found the contribution properly recorded and accounted for.
I am baffled as to why DLS auditors suggest there may be a connection between the $200,000 contribution and construction and/or lease costs, especially given the fact that the contribution was received eight months after the BPW approved the lease. As with all other Maryland colleges and universities, charitable contributions to the college are not required to be reported to DGS or to the BPW.
On another front, the DLS audit also stated that, "BCCC agreed to a lease modification that did not appear to be in the state's best interest, neither was the lease modification reported to the BPW." BCCC is a state agency. Therefore, its decision to lower future lease payments vs. accepting a one-time payment is in the best interest of Maryland: High lease payments deplete resources and create a strain on operating budgets. DGS, which provides oversight in all of the college's real estate endeavors, stated to auditors, "It is not unusual for the state to receive rent credit in lieu of cash payments." DGS also accepted responsibility for not reporting the lease modification to the BPW, and has since done so.
I can assure stakeholders that all operations concerning the BCCC Life Sciences Institute have been conducted according to established policy and procedures, are well documented and, can be validated.
Gary D. Rodwell, Baltimore
The writer is chairman of the Baltimore City Community College Board of Trustees.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times