Same firm to continue city auditing

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Halford Firm, a local accounting agency, was selected by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday to continue providing the city with auditing services to cover the fiscal year 2009.

The firm has completed audits for fiscal years 2006 and 2007 and is working on one for 2008 that is expected to be wrapped up by mid-February, Mayor Paul Winfield said.

“Until we get our audits straight, it affects our credit rating, it affects our ability to get grants and it affects our ability to bring resources that are needed in this community,” he said Tuesday. “If we do not get this completed, we will not be where we need to be.”

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While awaiting completion of the audits, the city board agreed in October to front funds for the Levee Street Depot project after ground-breaking was delayed twice.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is withholding the awarded $1.9 million in federal stimulus money until the city catches up in its audits.

Also, the city’s credit rating was placed on review in December by Moody’s Investors Service, a New York-based credit ratings provider of credit ratings and risk analysis, because of a lack of current financial and operating information.

Winfield said he believes the city’s rating of Aa3, the fourth-highest investment grade, is due to incomplete audits for 2008 and 2009.

Audits for 2009 will begin immediately after the 2008 audits are complete, officials said.