‘Unfounded comments’ muddy waters on city audits

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2011

In response to John Byram’s letter to the editor dated June 12, 2011, I called him in person that day and answered his questions as honestly as I could.

I cannot answer for the audits before July 16, 2008, which was my first day on the job. On that day, the City of Vicksburg was two years delinquent on their audits. Also, at that time the position of accounting director had been vacant for more than two years.

There are multiple reasons why the city has not been able to become current with its audits.

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First, Paul Rogers retired in June 2009, only three months after the fiscal year 2006 audit was issued. Since his retirement, he has been working only 2 1/2 days per week on the audits of the years before my employment. Also, I have been responsible for the city’s budget and the day-to-day operations of the city from a financial perspective since that time.

Second, the city changed auditors to May and Co. after the issuance of the FY06 audit. Third, the city changed accounting software and account numbers in January 2008, which created a significant problem when issuing a comparative financial statement.

I am happy to say that Paul Rogers has agreed to come back for 40 hours per week from July 1 to Dec. 31 in order to help become current with the audits. PERS allows a retiree to make only 1/2 of the salary they made when employed full time, so Rogers will not cost the city any additional money.

As stated above, May and Co. was the city’s auditor through the issuance of the FY06 audit. Due to their familiarity with the city’s operations, they are the obvious choice to assist with the audits. How much May and Co. will cost the city will be determined by the number of staff members that will be utilized and for how long. These measures are being taken due to the potential loss of grant funds and bond rating.

These are the answers given to Mr. Byram to his satisfaction. I was happy to answer his questions, but not the unfounded comments of the letter of June 19, 2011.

If anyone has any further questions, feel free to contact me.

Doug Whittington, C.P.A.