Cortez’s new finance director and Lewis native Kelly Koskie is glad to be back in town and hopes to hit the ground running in the effort to improve the city’s financial footing.
Koskie attended Montezuma-Cortez High School and graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. She then worked as a receptionist at the old City Hall before heading out to the Pacific Northwest.
Koskie told The Journal that she hopes that her 15 years of experience as a finance director for housing authorities in Washington state will be useful in Cortez’s longtime goal of catching up on its financial audits.
The city has been behind on its financial audits since officials in 2019 discovered that a faulty software conversion in 2016 led to inadequate financial documentation, preventing Cortez from receiving proper audits for the previous three years.
The backlog of audits means that property taxes have been withheld, and the city hasn’t been able to apply for grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
The city was working to fix the situation, and the 2016 financial audit was nearly completed, until the process was suddenly halted after it was discovered that then-city finance director Katheryn Moss had been embezzling from the city for roughly three years.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation probe into the embezzlement further set back the audits, since CBI told Cortez to stop cleaning its accounts until its investigation was finished.
Moss later pleaded guilty to a Class 5 felony charge of embezzling $63,642 from the city between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018.
Only last month was the city able to formally finish its 2016 audit. Years of audits still remain to be completed.
While she hesitates to call financial audits her specialty, Koskie told The Journal it is an aspect of the job that she is familiar with.
“It’s one of the things that I really enjoy doing,” Koskie said. “It may seem like a really big task, but I know that I’ve got a really great team here at City Hall.”
The city is close to hiring a new auditing firm to aid in its efforts.
Koskie acknowledged that the 2017 and 2018 audits might still have some issues from the Katheryn Moss days, the new auditing firm has assured her that they can work both audits simultaneously. She hopes to finish three years of audits within roughly a year and a half.
“We are definitely going to be working at an accelerated pace,” Koskie said.