City Hall 1 (copy)

The City of Nogales filed an insurance claim for more than $300,000 last month to make up for financial errors dating back several years.

“The cause and origin of said loss was due to the financial director’s failure to timely bill the State of Arizona for reimbursement of costs associated with fighting wildfires in 2017 and 2018,” the city wrote in the claim, which was signed by City Attorney Mike Massee and dated Oct. 31.

On Nov. 4, the city received a check for $313,092 – the full amount of the claim – from Berkeley Risk Administrators.

The NI learned about the issue after the city posted the agenda for a special council meeting that included a single, vaguely worded agenda item: an executive session to discuss “attorney-client performance review of finance department practices and procedures.”

City Manager John Kissinger declined to give any details about the purpose or topic of the meeting, but after speaking to a person with knowledge of the matter, the NI filed a public records request with the city for the insurance claim, as well as the original request for reimbursement.

The insurance claim provided in response shows that the loss was discovered around Sept. 4.

Massee said that the fire department had generated invoices for reimbursement in 2017 and 2018, but the finance department had not sent those bills to the state.

City Finance Director Jeanette Parrales declined to comment on the matter, and Nogales Fire Chief Jeffery Sargent told the NI that city officials had instructed him not to speak about the issue.

Kissinger also declined to comment after the insurance claim came to light, asserting that the matter was a “personnel issue.”

It was not immediately clear how or if the claim would affect the city’s insurance premiums going forward.

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