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City of Natchez behind on 2019 audit

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez audit woes continue.

In Monday’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Mayor Dan Gibson said the city will be late with completing an audit of the city’s finances for the 2019 fiscal year.

That could cost the city federal grant funding for Natchez Transit Authority if not granted an extension, officials said.

“We had hoped to have our 2018-2019 audit completed by Dec. 31, but that is not going to happen,” Gibson said.

Natchez Transit Authority uses grant funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation for day-to-day operations, Gibson said, adding MDOT requires the city to have an updated audit in order to continue receiving those funds.

Gibson said Silas Simmons had just begun work on the 2019 audit in November after the 2018 audit was finished Oct. 31.

“It is a lot to get an audit done and then to get it done in just two months was just a bit unrealistic,” Gibson said.

City Clerk Servia Fortenberry said Silas Simmons requested a three-page list of needed documents on Dec. 15, at which time officials were informed that the audit would not be finished by Dec. 31.

“Everything they requested, we gave them by Dec. 18,” Fortenberry said.

Gibson said the city asked the Mississippi Department of Transportation for an extension on their deadline for the audit, however, the extension was denied.

Gibson said MDOT could grant an extension retroactively but was unable to grant an extension without further approval from Washington, D.C., once the next administration takes office in January.

“We will know more about the approval of that extension after Jan. 20 when the new administration takes over,” Gibson said, adding the city may have to rely on reserve funds in Natchez Transit after Jan. 1.

Natchez Transit should have enough money in reserve funds to continue its operations through January, Gibson said, adding MDOT representatives said the city could be approved for an extension under the new administration.

“The city cannot get behind on its audits ever again,” Gibson said.

Gibson said an update regarding the city’s audit was added to Monday’s agenda for transparency and no actions concerning the audit were required.

In other matters, during Monday’s meeting, the board:

4 Unanimously awarded a $20,720 bid to Hope Enterprises to demolish six adjudicated properties at 210 Daisy Street, 716 Smith Street, 1160 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, 15 ½ Garden Street, 2724 Roselawn Drive and 92 Saint Catherine Street.

4 Unanimously awarded a $39,950 bid for planting, grass cutting and beautification of select city streets to Thompson Tree and Spraying Service. Gibsons said major areas that will be addressed with the beautification project are Liberty Road at Seargent Prentiss Drive interchange and Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

4 Unanimously approved a three-year lease at a rate of $3,626.50 per month with Ladd’s Golf Carts in Memphis, Tennessee for gasoline golf carts to use at the Duncan Park golf course.

4 Extended the contract for private security services on the Natchez bluff through Jan. 15 by a vote of 5-0 with Alderman Ben Davis abstaining due his working relationship with the security company. In October, the board approved the temporary contract for two security guards to patrol the bluff area daily from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at a rate of approximately $840 per week.

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