Want to bring up new business to the Bay St Louis Council and not be on the meeting agenda? No problemo you just do it and the doormats on the City Council invariably seem to go along. This is how you end up with an audit presentation happening at a Council workshop when an “audit update” morphs into a full blown audit presentation. It is slated to happen again tonight with the Mayor telling WLOX he’ll be bringing his pick to be chief of police to the City Council. Funny thing is that item of business is not listed on the agenda emailed out by City Council Clerk Tilley.
The first round of public comments are limited to agenda items only and since a new Police Chief is not on the agenda the Council will not hear from the public before they rubber stamp the Mayor’s choice. Worse though is the City Council spent around $10,000 on a performance audit which included the Office of the State Auditor telling the Council they should not take action on any item not on their agenda, noting the Council in the past frequently engaged in this highly questionable practice. Continue reading “Old bad habits live on in a Place Apart”
First off I did not take a poll but WLOX (Hugh Keeton if I’m not mistaken), The Sun Herald and the Sea Coast Echo were all in attendance or watching one of the various the live streams. It was a marathon meeting and I’ll start with the later portion of the meeting before I left around 8pm, two and a half hours in and the August bill from the former City Attorney:
Anyone that has witnessed the early performances of the new City Attorney understands exactly why the City Council made the change. As an added bonus, the Citizens are finally getting value for their money in legal.
Several residents spoke out against Anita Warner’s application for a variance to the zoning ordinance in order to construct a six-foot aluminum fence on her front yard property line fronting on Third Street and Caron Lane and extend it to the side yards. The Planning and Zoning Commission denied the recommendation that the fence be aluminum and have a 10-foot set back. Many residents said they didn’t want the fence or greenery there because it would obstruct people’s vision. Warner attended the meeting and presented the city with photographs indicating similar fencing surrounding her residence. Ellis Anderson, a representative from the Historic Preservation Commission, told the board, after Warner and others had left the meeting. Two weeks ago, they voted down her request. Her choice was to appeal to the city, which Warner did, and the council sent her request to planning and zoning. The council granted the variance with the stipulation that the six-foot fence be constructed out of aluminum made to look like wrought iron, no obstructions in the right of way and a 20-foot set back on the corner and regular setbacks on the front and side, which is 20 feet.
I’ve been to or saw the live stream of at least three Council meetings over the course of the summer where one or more City Councilmen explicitly warned the Mayor to not use the former City Attorney’s services after his contract expired on July 31, 2016 as the Council would not approve it for payment. And of course what does the Mayor do? If you guessed he uses the services of the former City Attorney you’d be a winner!
Of course it is a very poorly kept secret that the easiest way to find a member of the Hancock County Alliance for Good Government is to attend a meeting of the Bay St Louis or Waveland City Councils, the County Board of Supervisors and the School Districts. Sadly you seldom see the Facebook warriors at any of these thus the need for news organizations like Slabbed, The Sea Coast Echo, WLOX, The Sun Herald, etc. Slabbed was at last night’s special meeting of the Bay St Louis City Council and sure enough I found three members of the Alliance, Co Chairmen Lana Noonan and Ron Thorpe along with Libby Garcia (Miss. Libby), who was giving an interview to Make Lacy of WLOX when I arrived to cover the meeting for Slabbed:
And that was before Councilwoman Wendy McDonald was critically injured after being hit by a car. Eyewitness accounts indicated Ms. McDonald was bleeding from her ear after impact which is not a good sign. She is fighting for her life over at Ochsners. A couple of links:
Tonight’s meeting agenda indicates HB1523 is again going to surface as a topic of conversation. Best I can tell the Council is divided about three ways on this one and without Councilwoman McDonald I seriously doubt we see any official action on it.
And then there is the Hizzoner factor. Stay tuned.
And since I’m well occupied with various and sundry multiple irons on the fire I’ll be as brief as possible:
Ms. Hammond with the Metairie based accounting firm Carr Riggs and Ingram opened her remarks by disclosing the kind of service the firm was hired to perform and that service was an “agreed-upon procedures engagement“. If you follow the link you’ll find the service is pretty reflective of its name; the client provides the assertions that need to be tested and the CPA firm tests those assertions. Even better is what it isn’t: An audit including, except for very limited circumstances, a “compliance audit”.So what were the agreed upon procedures that Carr Riggs and Ingram was hired to perform? Easy folks, the US Department of Justice compliance review of the City’s Equitable Sharing Fund spells it out:
The proceeds received and spent should be included in the City’s annual financial audit as part of the Single Audit. However, certain requirements were inadequately reviewed during prior years’ audits, and the City, as directed by the DOJ, will engage a third-party to independently review and reconcile the DOJ funds equitable sharing account.
That verbiage is likely why the City Council voted to put the previous auditors professional liability carrier on notice of a claim.
Considering no money had been expended from the Equitable sharing account reviewing and reconciling it was an easy job in taking the year end affidavits and tracing the revenues into the program. The math involves addition along with some rudimentary multiplication and division to calculate interest that should have been but was not credited to the DOJ fund. So you spend a day on site to make the calculation while Hizzoner blows copious amounts of smoke up the ol’ derriere. The resulting presentation, which was complete with smoke still emanating from Ms. Hammond’s hiney, appeared to be more an exercise in auditioning for the 2016 audit because her remarks went far beyond the scope of her work. As for the smoke believe you me I know first hand about it because I was literally next to her broadcasting the agreed upon procedures engagement report presentation on Periscope. Proof: Continue reading “A few thoughts on last Tuesday night’s Bay City Council meeting”
And it is headlined by Becky Hammond, CPA. Ms. Hammond will be presenting the DoJ report to the Council.
And I have this from Facebook:
Tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm the Bay St. Louis City Council will hold their regular meeting at the Council Chambers behind the Shell Station on Main St.
The most important item on the Agenda is the report from the Department of Justice regarding the some $300,000 in Drug Forefieture Funds that the DOJ has deemed misappropriated and have issued to the city an immediate demand for repayment.
The Mayor made an attempt 2 weeks ago to transfer funds from the General Fund to the DOJ account without authorization from the Council. The Council overrode that action and made him replace the money to the General Fund.