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Mayor: Audit shows city’s fiscal health

April 20, 2011

By PAUL SIMS
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

A recent audit of the city’s books revealed no major findings, with the mayor saying the report shows the city’s “financial house is in order.”
The Board of Aldermen accepted the independent report from Watkins, Ward and Stafford by consent Tuesday night.
“The important thing we look for is an unqualified audit that they tell us our financial house is in order and in this case those two things occurred,” Mayor Parker Wiseman said Wednesday. The “unqualified” designation means if there are “major concerns they would have qualified their overall opinion,” he said.
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said the city’s “ending fund balance is a snapshot of our performance in a point in time,” with this being Sept. 30.
The general fund had $19.26 million in revenues, and $18.56 million in expenditures, the report shows. The city shows a general fund balance increase of $762,057 over the previous year.
“Part of that is committed for specific projects but part of it is to solidify our long-term financial position as a city,” she said.
On Tuesday, the board agreed to allow city officials to proceed with a deal with Diversified Lenders Inc. for the purchase of Incode Software from Tyler Technologies for the City Clerk’s office at a monthly rate of $3,748.33 over three years for a total of $134,940.88, subject to approval by City Attorney Chris Latimer. City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw said this move will replace 15-year-old software and handle such functions as budgeting, accounts payable, payroll and accounts receivable.
One of the audit report’s six findings regarded accounts payable and payroll liability not reconciling to subsidiary ledgers.
“We’re having to do some of those things manually. The new software will allow us to replace a manual process with technology,” Sistrunk said.
Four findings had to do with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, Sistrunk said. “Some of those will be addressed by the new software,” she said.
Another finding related to management asked auditors to draft the financial statements.
“That’s not uncommon,” Sistrunk said, noting this is really a disclosure on the accountant’s behalf.
In other matters Tuesday, the board:
u Approved the preliminary plat for the High Cotton development, a four-unit project on a 0.26-acre lot on Russell Street. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the plat on April 12. In March, the city’s Board of Adjustment and Appeals gave the project a density variance because it exceeded the city’s 15 unit-per-acre guideline by 0.38.
u Agreed to a ratification and joinder to add AA Starkville LLC to a plat on a piece of property where it had not been previously listed as an owner along with Starkville 12. The move gives city officials the ability to sign the plat with all the owners on the document, Latimer said.
u Received a copy of the city’s Healthy Hometown application. The document outlines the community’s effort to be the state’s healthiest community. The designation is part of an effort through the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi. According to a website on Healthy Hometown, a municipality from three size categories will receive grants of $25,000. The community reaching the top designation will obtain a $50,000 grant. The recipients will be those who “have made the most strides in creating a healthy community and who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to a healthy culture,” the website reads. The foundation will select the winners and announce them at the Summer Mississippi Municipal League Conference June 27-30 in Biloxi.
u Heard that officials will hold an event to celebrate work related to addressing storm water issues at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum Tuesday from 7-10 p.m. Kasia Gallo, a museum representative and an instructor in Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University, said the work not only solves the museum’s problems, it also serves as a regional showcase for sustainable storm water solutions. During Tuesday’s event, a showing of the movie “Night at the Museum” is scheduled.
u Accepted a contract with Waste Management of Mississippi for the company to conduct recycling services for the city at a price of $750 per haul.
u Listened as Wiseman announced the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has accepted the Police Department’s state credentials in a bid to achieve national accreditation. “This is an important step,” Wiseman said.

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