Audit firms in dark over contracts with city

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

Representatives of two local firms hired by the city in 2008 and 2011 to work on the city’s audits said they have not been told by city officials whether they will continue auditing the city’s books.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday hired Booker T. Camper Jr. of Memphis at a cost not to exceed $91,600 to do the 2009 and 2010 audits, which are not done.

But Ken Halford, owner of the Halford Firm, which was hired by the city in 2008 to do the city’s audits, said he has not received a notice from the city ending his services.

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John Paris, managing partner of May and Company, which was hired in May 2011 to help with the 2008, 2009 and 2010 audits, said his firm helped Halford with the 2008 audit, but the company has not been contacted about the 2009 and 2010 audits.

May and Company, which did the city audits before Halford was signed up, was hired to consult on the back audits because they were familiar with the city’s books.

Mayor Paul Winfield said Tuesday that May and Company could consult with Camper on the 2009 and 2010 audits.

The hiring of Camper came in the wake of the city’s release of its 2008 audit report and a Jan. 25 letter from State Auditor Stacey Pickering giving the city 30 days to deliver its 2010 audit. City Attorney Lee Thames said Wednesday the auditor’s office has extended the deadlines for completion of 2009 and 2010 audits to May 31.

The 2008 audit has been received by Pickering’s office, the auditor’s spokeswoman, Lisa Shoemaker, said Wednesday.

The audit was released last week, but Vicksburg officials still have not released information on the 2008 audit and the costs of completing it and the status of the 2009 and 2010 audits.

A public records request for the Halford and May and Company audit fees for doing the 2008 audit was faxed to the city clerk’s office Wednesday morning, but city clerk Walter Osborne said Wednesday afternoon that his office had not received it. A second request was hand-delivered Wednesday afternoon, and the information had not been made available this morning.

A list of questions about the 2008 audit was sent by e-mail to city accountant Doug Whittington on Feb. 15. Whittington said he received them, but did not indicate when he would respond.

Winfield said Camper is a consortium with accountants in Mississippi, Tennessee and other states, and was certified to work in Mississippi.

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