Hattiesburg closer to 2014 audit results

Hattiesburg closer to 2014 audit results

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The City of Hattiesburg now has a draft of an almost complete audit of city finances and government practices from 2014.

Elton Sims, a partner at Carr, Riggs and Ingram, the accounting firm conducting the city's audit, said part of the delay is because the company wasn't hired by the city until January 2015, but the other major issue is the city's "obsolete" computer system.

"We had to spend a lot of time creating the details that would then be added as an adjustment to the financial statements," Sims said. "We were hired to audit accounts payable, not to go in and create a list of accounts payable, and that's what we had to do."

Councilperson Mary Dryden asked Sims if he had access to all the information he needed at a council meeting Monday. Sims said while city staff has been helpful, the company hasn't had access to needed records because those records don't exist.

"We have not had access in terms of being able to get to information," Sims said. "We've had to create information many times and that relates to system deficiencies."

Hattiesburg City Council President Kim  Bradley said the completion of the 2014 audit will allow the city to assess if it missed out on any funding, like Mississippi Department of Transportation money, because it was incomplete.

"We need to get this one completed and maybe we can recapture some of those (funds)," Bradley said.

Sims and the city council said they want to have 2014's audit finished, so the company can start working on 2015's audit. Bradley said he would like to have the 2015 audit by September 2016 to ensure the city doesn't miss out on any funding opportunities.

"We are doing everything we can to do that," Sims said. "That is utmost priority for all of us, and that's out goal right now."

Sims said said he hopes the 2015 audit will be easier because he is already familiar with Hattiesburg's record keeping.

"The system's the same," Sims said. "Those problems are still there, but we have a lot better idea now that we've gone through that process and realize what system inequities are there how to to combat that."