$30K increase for audit is needless

Published 8:50 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

A four-year mayoral term marked with controversial hirings, firings, allegations and pleas ended with yet another controversy this week.

Last year, the city contracted with an accounting firm out of Andalusia who audited the city for the prior year for around $18,000.

On Oct. 14 outgoing Mayor Cecil P. Williamson contracted with a different firm that will charge the city a little over $47,000. That’s a swing of about $29,000.

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Williamson claimed that when she contacted the Andalusia firm to begin this year’s audit process, they were unresponsive. She claimed other firms were already booked.

There was nothing wrong with Williamson contracting with this firm. The mayor was within her legal rights and it falls well within her authority as mayor.

However, to drop an additional $30,000 in the lap of Demopolis taxpayers without first consulting with the members of the council – or at least warning them – is a bit irresponsible.

Williamson claimed acting quickly was the only way to assure the audit is complete by January – a time frame Williamson herself imposed.

Demopolis’ audits habitually arrive late into the fiscal year, many times at the end of the next fiscal year. An additional $30,000 in expense will land like a sledge to the city’s bottom line and is hardly a wise expenditure to shave nine months off of a wait.

Williamson said she would not cancel the agreement and since this meeting was the last official meeting of her term, she gets to walk away from this train wreck unscathed.

While there is little doubt the city has made some progress in Williamson’s tenure in office, those success stories are decidedly harder to find thanks to the in fighting and controversies.

The next mayor and council has their work cut out for them and it begins with preventing the catastrophe that would be caused by squandering an extra $30,000 on an audit.