McComb officials hired a comptroller after the position sat vacant for almost five months and heard an update on the status of the overdue 2018 audit.

The city hired South Pike graduate and Houston resident Daphne Green, effective Feb. 18, with the salary set at the previously advertised price of $45,000.

“I’m very excited with the opportunity from the city,” Green said. “I am from South Pike, so coming here to provide this service to where I grew up and went to school, I am very excited about.”

The position had been empty since Nov. 1, when previous comptroller Sevetrius Dillon stepped down to take a job as the human resources director for the city of Natchez.

Green had previously helped the city by performing comptroller functions on a contractual basis until the position was filled. City Administrator Dirkland Smith said Green’s hiring is a positive development.

“We are moving in the right direction, making steps in the progressional track that was outlined by our CPA firm that is assisting us with our books,” Smith said.

Tommy Lindley, an accountant and auditor with Haddox Reed Eugene and Betts, has been assisting the city in straightening up its books. He gave an update on the status of reconciling 2018 financial records so that an audit can be performed.

“Unfortunately, we are a year and a half back at this point,” Lindley said. “We are trying to get you current. I know it is very important from the standpoint of the city to tackle 2019 and 2020 to get that accurate reflection because, in 2018, you’re getting tight.”

Lindley said he and Green made significant headway organizing the books, but they found some issues in the records.

“We feel like we have made significant headway in the adjustments required for 2018,” Lindley said. “We’ve encountered numerous issues. I think our biggest issue being that no one is currently here that was around at the time these account actions occurred, so finding information and whatnot has been very difficult.

“We feel like we are getting close to the point that we intend to turn it back over to the auditor to resume, complete the 2018 audit.”

Lindley said there were also issues with the bank reconciliations for 2018, but they balanced them, and they have a cash balance for the end of the year, but he also stressed the need for an outside hire to assist Green in her duties for the 2019 audit because he expects issues that come as a result of the issues in 2018.

“The issues we are seeing in 2018 are going to roll into your ‘19 and your ‘20, and we recommend that the city address those by hiring someone outside to assist the comptroller to get those records up to speed so that you can have an accurate reflection of your cash on hand,” Lindley said.

Selectman Devante Johnson asked Lindley if the issues in 2018 were rectified, to which Lindley said they are in the process of being corrected, but he again stressed the need for outside help for 2019.  Selectman Ted Tullos asked Smith if they would be able to hire help before April 15. Lindley told Tullos that it would be hard to find someone by then since most accountants would be busy, but he suggested finding someone to help as soon as possible.

“We are deep in the 2018 year because I think that is a pressing matter to get your audit complete for 2018, but right on the heels of that you’re going to have to have your ’19 audit performed, so I think the city needs to try to find someone to be working on it,” Lindley said.

Tullos asked Lindley for recommendations, and Mayor Quordiniah Lockely said he suggested a firm to Smith, which Smith followed up on and is awaiting an answer.

Lockley said until 2018’s audit is done, the city won’t have an accurate account of the budgets of 2019, which bleeds over into 2020. Selectman Ronnie Brock asked if 2019 would run roughly the same as 2018’s budget, which Lindley accounted for roughly $914,000 in cash on hand in the general fund as of Sept. 30, 2018.

Lindley said the budget was down from the year prior by almost half. Lockley said obligations to pay for various projects could mean even less money in the 2019 general fund.

“It looks like, in 2018, you are down historically compared to the prior year,” Lindley said. “I think if you look at your general fund going forward, it is probably lower than $914,000 in 2019. I don’t know if ‘19 is accurate or not.”

 Lockley said Green is getting started on reconciling the current budget.

“We won’t really have the best view until ‘18-’19 has been completed, but it is important that Daphne gets started with ‘20,” he said.

Johnson asked if they would need a forensic audit for the year of 2018.

“All that we have seen currently are errors,” Lindley said. “There were just accounting errors that we are having to adjust in 2018 to get the balance accurate in each fund.”

Brock asked Lindley if the errors ran throughout the year, but Lindley said they were mostly errors near the end of 2018.

“It looks like the bank errors are more towards the end,” Lindley said. “That’s what we want to communicate that those going forward have to be addressed in ‘19 and into ‘20.”

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