The checking account for the City of Magee has not been balanced since July 2020. That fact surfaced at the last City of Magee Board of Aldermen’s meeting.
The city clerk is responsible for balancing the city’s checking account, but former city clerk Lane Yearby recently left the position, and the accounting problems are now becoming public.
The city’s annual audit can not be completed until the bank statements can be balanced. Angel Hartzog, CPA, is conducting that audit for the city.
Brett Duncan, an accountant with Charles Robert Prince, CPA, of Magee has agreed to contract with the city to help reconcile the issues. Duncan presented a contract which outlines the fee for services at the approved governmental rate of $85 per hour and $75 per hour if another staff accountant is required to assist in the work. The board approved moving forward with the Charles Prince firm at that rate. Duncan will start working with interim city clerk Jon Styron, to complete balancing the city’s checking account.
Mayor Dale Berry said at this point no city money appears to be missing, but that the work had just not been done. The members of the city’s Board of Aldermen and the city clerk were all bonded so if a shortage existed the bond would cover any amount in question.
Norman Miller with ASAP Ambulance service discussed the company’s service since they became providers in the county. He said the typical average for an emergency hospital call is 14 minutes and 23 seconds, though the time of transport was slower during February because of the ice storms.
Berry informed the board that House Bill 1245, which was sponsored in part by State Rep. Price Wallace, is still alive. The bill requires MDOT to cut grass and maintain the highway rights-of-way more regularly than twice a year. Berry said the city had to contract the service to an independent contractor because city workers did not have the time required to keep the grass under control. The new company is scheduled to start cutting this month.
The PriorityOne Senior Citizen Center located in the former YMCA facility in Eastside Subdivision is ready to be opened and dedicated to the public. An opening date is expected to be announced soon.
The mayor directed the board’s attention to an exception to the claims docket for a hotel bill that had been paid for overnight lodging in Hattiesburg. The mayor said the former city clerk had gotten a room for a city clerks conference held there, although this was contrary to customary procedures. The city has not gotten overnight rooms for events in Jackson or Hattiesburg because of the proximity.
Duncan reported some favorable news to the board in that the city sales tax has shown an increase over the same period a year ago. This year through February the collections are $1.4 million compared to $1.29 for the same period last year.
He also told the board that while they are operating with a budget, the data was never transferred based on starting a new budget year on October 1, 2020.
The board approved travel for training for Jon Styron, now serving as interim city clerk. They also approved several police officers to attend various school and certification courses.
Alderman Patrick Brown indicated that the paper had not explained clearly the issue of his not approving City Building Inspector Joe Worrell’s request at the last board meeting to attend a conference. To clarify, Brown said he had wanted cleanup efforts of properties that still had not been complete and had wanted clarification on those issues before he was willing to make travel approvals. Part of the reason also cited for his refusal was that Worrell was not attending board meetings. Worrell’s request to attend the conference was ultimately approved.
The board approved the application of the city for a grant from the Federal Aviation Association in the amount of $400,000. Keafur Grimes, aviation consultant for Barge Design, presented information to the board about the funds being used to replace the existing lighting at the airport. He also reported that the credit card system is now operational so that fuel can be charged.
City Public Works Director Hugh Dilmore reported that progress had been made at city park. He reported on some critical sewer and water issues, but he said workers are staying on top of the issues until they can be corrected. He reported that mosquito spraying in the city would begin on Memorial Day and run through Labor Day.
He told the board that he would like to add an additional garbage truck and limb truck to the inventory. It was reported that the city was delinquent in their payment on the mini-excavator and that $1,500 would bring them current and pay the two months that were delinquent.