Hub City Municipal Court cited for issues in audit

Hub City Municipal Court cited for issues in audit
City of Hattiesburg 2014 Audit. Source: WDAM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The city of Hattiesburg was presented with a draft of an almost complete audit from 2014 during an April city council meeting.

The findings were presented to the council from Ridgeland based firm, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC.

A letter presented to the council from the firm detailed areas that required attention, including the Hattiesburg City Court and expenditures of federal awards.

Two are significant weakness, which are defined as "deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over compliance with a type of compliance requirement of a federal program that is less severe than a material weakness in internal control, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance."

"The city's accounting procedures for Municipal Court fines receivable are not in compliance with accounting system procedures prescribed by the State Auditor under Mississippi Law," according to a letter from Carr, Riggs & Ingram LLC.

Mississippi law requires the Office of the State Auditor to prescribe procedures for the handling of certain court funds, pursuant to which the State Auditor has set forth procedures for Municipal Court accounting systems and partial payment accounting.

Those procedures require the court system to maintain an accounts receivable system, to balance such accounts monthly, and to periodically analyze such things as the age of accounts.

Reports should also be made to the judge and council, containing that information that is required.

"While the city records fines by case and posts collections against those fines, it did not prepare appropriate reconciliations and was unable to generate an accurate aging of accounts. Further, the city did not produce reliable aging reports of outstanding fines or provide related reports of outstanding fines or provide related reports to the judge and city council during the year Sep. 30, 2014."

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.

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

The report also listed recommendations for the city, including implementing procedures to produce periodic detail reports of case fines and collections done in a timely fashion, to reconcile related balances.

Reports should be made to the judge and the city council of outstanding fines and related analyses.

"The city administration agrees with these findings, and management is in the process of developing its corrective action plan. The city's corrective action plan is expected to be completed and implementation begun by Dec. 2016," according to Carr, Riggs & Ingram LLC.