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No reportable conditions found in audit report

DEMOPOLIS &8212; For fiscal year 2007 the city received a clean audit report as presented by their auditing firm Rabren, Odom, Pierce and Hayes at the city council meeting last week.

In comparison to the fiscal year 2006 audit report, which the council was presented with just six months ago, there were no reportable conditions. The previous audit included seven conditions identified as material weaknesses associated with internal control of the city&8217;s finances, including problems with cash reconciliations, overpaid medical insurance premiums, credit cards not substantiated, inappropriate travel expense reimbursement, unallowable costs, unapproved travel allowance and meals and entertainment substantiation.

After the release of the previous report, Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said she did not plan on having any more reportable conditions in any future audit reports. Williamson said all of those issues were addressed at the time of the last audit report, and have since not interfered with the city&8217;s finances.

In particular, the implementation of a travel policy with reimbursement documents and a credit card policy requiring city officials to request a city credit card before using it, has helped alleviate prior concerns, Wiliamson said.

According to the report, the city&8217;s net assets exceeded its liabilities, or funds paid out by the city, by $10,581,157 – $4,479,6060 of which is unrestricted and available to the city. Furthermore, the city&8217;s net assets increased by $1,020,218, but also increased their long-term debt with a $5 million bond issue for capital projects.

In total, the city has authorized $5,083,805 for capital projects including a new municipal complex, a third fire station, an airport weather system, the Riverwalk Project, Whitfield Canal Project and the DHS athletic complex. Of that $5 million, $1,045,100 has already been expended.

Although there were no reportable conditions, the auditors did have two suggestions for the city to make their finances run more smoothly. They suggested putting in a more detailed purchase order system for purchases made with city funds.

Odom also said the Ravine golf course, which the city acquired under the Parks and Recreation umbrella just a short time ago, was incurring a large amount of cost to the city. He suggested looking into possible vendors for their golf supplies. As it stands now, Odom said many of the purchases &045; which are often made from online vendors &045; incur high shipping costs that are almost as much as the cost of the item itself.

But not everyone was as pleased with this audit report. At the Feb. 21 council meeting where the report was presented, auditor Ken Odom addressed the material weaknesses found in the previous year&8217;s audit report.

Odom said most of the conditions associated with material weaknesses had been addressed prior to his firm performing their audit, and it was not in the scope of his contract to list any further information on the conditions.

Councilman Jack Cooley asked why none of these items were listed in the audit report, to which Odom replied, &8220;I did not think it was necessary.&8221;

Furthermore, Odom said any conditions that involved financial concerns involved only a few thousand dollars that was paid back to the city.

Councilman Woody Collins was less pleased with Odom&8217;s answer.