Audit misses deadline

Published 12:13 am Thursday, July 2, 2015

NATCHEZ — The 2013-2014 fiscal year audit for the City of Natchez was due Tuesday.

However, no audit was submitted.

“We ran into a couple of problems,” said Natchez City Clerk Donnie Holloway.

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The trial balance — a yearly report listing the balance of each city account — was not produced, Holloway said.

“That goes through the books, through the ledgers and all the cash transactions,” Holloway said. “We have no idea why it wasn’t given.”

Former City Accountant Angela Penfield, who resigned Thursday, was in charge of presenting the city’s trial balance, Holloway said.

Mary Lofaso has since been hired in Penfield’s place.

Penfield worked for the city for a year and a half, Holloway said.

“The audit got started, and the information was given to the auditors, but it was incomplete,” Holloway said. “So they had to stop the audit.”

This isn’t the first time the city has missed its yearly audit deadline.

The 2012-2013 fiscal year audit, which was due June 30, 2014, wasn’t submitted until December 2014 because several city transactions were not properly recorded.

State law requires that the city have the audit completed within nine months of the close of the year.

“I’m disappointed that it wasn’t ready in a timely fashion,” Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said. “I talked to the auditor and the clerk, and I made my wishes known that it needed to be ready by July 1.”

With Penfield stepping down unexpectedly, Brown said the city was left “temporarily crippled,” and had to quickly hire Lofaso.

“She has the necessary credentials,” Brown said of Lofaso, who has not previously worked in the city clerk office.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said without a completed audit, it is going to be difficult for the mayor and board of aldermen to plan out the next year’s budget.

“Municipalities are ordered to revise their budgets in July,” Dillard explained. “So this makes it difficult for us to do, because we don’t have starting numbers to go off of from 2013-2014 fiscal year.”

Dillard said he’s not surprised the audit wasn’t ready, and he thinks there are more reasons behind why the city didn’t have it ready.

“I don’t buy that the city accountant leaving is why the audit wasn’t ready,” Dillard said. “This occurs every year. The clerk is either not learning, or ignoring the problems that bring this about.”

Even though the city audit is officially late, Brown said he’s confident it will be submitted with the next few weeks.

“We will do it as quickly as we possibly can,” Brown said. “I’ve encouraged a rapid turnaround with getting that job done and submitted.”

Brown said he had little interaction with Penfield, and couldn’t speak as to why she left the city clerk office.

Holloway said Penfield’s leave was unexpected, and couldn’t be discussed because it was a personnel issue.

Penfield could not be reached for comment.