Memphis firm hired to finish two city audits ‘08 report cleared; city holds details

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Memphis accounting firm was hired Tuesday to complete the City of Vicksburg’s 2009 and 2010 audits.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 2-0 — after South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman left the meeting because of illness — to hire Booker T. Camper Jr. at a cost not to exceed $91,600.

Mayor Paul Winfield said the company “is a consortium, with accountants in Mississippi, Tennessee and other states. They are certified to work in Mississippi.”

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He said the company was hired “because of delays and because we need to get the audits completed.”

The decision to hire the company comes in the wake of the release of the city’s 2008 audit. It also comes as the deadline nears on a Jan. 25 letter from State Auditor Stacey Pickering giving the city 30 days to deliver its 2010 audit.

If the audit is not received, according to the letter, state law allows the auditor to issue a notice of non-compliance, hire an audit firm and permit the Mississippi Department of Revenue to withhold sales tax disbursements to the city until 150 percent of the cost of preparing the audit is collected.

Winfield said the city has received extensions from the state for the 2009 and 2010 audits. City Attorney Lee Thames said this morning the auditor’s office has extended the deadlines for completion of 2009 and 2010 audits to May 31.

City officials said the 2008 audit was completed last week, but elected officials and the city accountant, Doug Whittington, have declined to release its details.

The delay in completing the audits has prevented the city from receiving a $1.6 million reimbursement from the Mississippi Department of Transportation for the renovation of the old Levee Street Depot.

Winfield said he had been looking for an accounting firm to do the 2009 and 2010 audit. Booker T. Camper was selected over a local firm, he said, “because they can provide the manpower to get in and get the audits completed.”

The board in 2008 hired the Halford Firm of Vicksburg to handle the city’s annual audits. In May, the board hired May and Company, which served as the city’s independent auditors before Halford, to assist as consultants for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 audits because the company was familiar with the city’s books.

He did not say if Halford will do the city’s 2011 audit. Attempts to reach senior partner Ken Halford were unsuccessful.

No fee was specified when May and Company was hired, although discussions between Whittington and May and Company determined a range of $30,000 to $150,000 for an unspecified amount of time.

Winfield said May and Company also could consult with Booker T. Camper on the 2009 and 2010 audits. He deferred questions about May and Company’s fees to Whittington. Attempts to contact Whittington were unsuccessful.