Transparency again an issue at Bay City Hall

To say we have a few things going on in the background is a bit of an understatement as we have some major technology upgrades in progress to go with everything else thus we have several irons in the proverbial fire. I mention this because I left last week’s City Council meeting with the impression the Administration and Council would be working on a more cooperative level but that appears to be an illusion.

To set things up at 4:30 last Tuesday there was a Council workshop to discuss the audit and the capital improvements proposed to be funded by the upcoming bond issue. During the audit portion of the workshop City Clerk Clark disclosed to the City Council that the DoJ folks were done looking at the Equitable Sharing Funds, of which close to $300,000 looks to have been misspent by the Fillingame Administration on things like fancy street lights for Ward 2. Clark revealed that DoJ was requiring a forensic audit of the program before any further Equitable Sharing funds can be expended by the City and that everything he was telling the council was contained in an email that he received from the City’s contact at Department of Justice. The Council asked to see the correspondence and Clark indicated that would not be a problem.

The problem of course is that here we are a week later and sources on the Bay City Council indicate to Slabbed New Media that despite repeated requests to Mr. Clark for the requested information, he has not sent the DoJ email to the City Council, likely because Mayor Fillingame told him not to share the email being my guess. Continue reading “Transparency again an issue at Bay City Hall”

Trolley lolley lolley, fa la la la……

Bay St. Louis council calls for federal probe into $186,000 in police-forfeiture money ~ Wes Muller

Playing games with pooled bank accounts is nothing new or particularily innovative on the book cooking front.  What gets me is the fact that the same pot of money is apparently spent over and over and over again.  I’ll term it Hocus Pocus accounting and it is fairly easy to see through.

Speaking of Hocus Pocus accounting in the Bay we have a Hocus Pocus budgeting as well as.  You see folks in Mississippi by law Municipalities must prepare their budget on the cash basis with one exception. What this means is revenue per the budget is recognized when actually received rather than when earned. This means with the exception of previous fiscal year claims paid within 30 days after September 30 that expenses are recognized when paid rather than when incurred. Since we’re talking governmental accounting this also means that capital expenses are shown as an expense when paid and both loan principal and interest are expensed when paid.  Adjusting for claims paid 30 days after year end this also means the following equation is true. [Section 21-35-23, Miss. Code Ann. (1972)]

Beginning Cash in fund + budgeted revenues – budgeted expenses = Ending Cash in fund

Now I would encourage everyone to visit the City’s website and download the original and amended budgets for 2014-2015. Look hard for the equation I highlighted above but you can also take it from me that you won’t find it because the City did not use the correct format for its budget. Correct format??? What the heck is Handshoe talking about? I’m talking about the Mississippi Audit and Accounting Guide for Municipalities promulgated by the Mississippi State Auditor’s office, which by law has the authority to dictate the form of the budget. [Sections 21-35-7 and 21-35-29, Miss. Code Ann. (1972)] The following is what I am talking about being missing from the Bay Budget: Continue reading “Trolley lolley lolley, fa la la la……”

Bay City Council votes 7-0 to request DOJ OIG Investigation of City Drug Asset Forfeiture Funds

The City of Bay St Louis has been out of the news cycle here at Slabbed for a few months now but here in the dog days of August last night’s meet produced big news on a couple of fronts the main one being this morning’s City Council meeting headline. There has been chatter about the Drug Asset Forfeiture Funds since the last meeting and it was clear from Chief Denardo’s remarks last night regarding the Bay Police Department’s inability to access the funding source to make undercover drug buys there was a problem in finance. The council request asks for a review of the forfeiture accounts from 2008 forward.

Additionally Slabbed has learned this morning from a source with knowledge of City Hall operations requesting anonymity that Mississippi State Auditor’s office investigators have visited City Hall this morning requesting a meeting with Mayor Fillingame, Chief Denardo and City Clerk Smith regarding problems in the Forfeiture Funds. State Auditor’s Office Investigator Susan Syerson was in attendance at last night’s meeting.

Additionally Councilman Lonnie Falgout questioned the amount of cash currently shown on the City’s financial statements for the 2014 Refunding Bond Debt Service Fund indicating his calculations show a shortage of close to $100,000 in the fund. Mayor Fillingame promised to present a reconciliation of the cash in that fund at the next scheduled council meeting.

Finally, what started out as a dust up over how much Bond Vig would be due City Attorney Donald Rafferty turned into a bidding war between Butler Snow and Jones Walker with Continue reading “Bay City Council votes 7-0 to request DOJ OIG Investigation of City Drug Asset Forfeiture Funds”