McComb selectmen put some clarity into solving some of its financial problems on Friday.
On a 5-0 vote, board members approved hiring certified public accountant Daphne Green, a South Pike graduate now living in Houston, to reconcile bank accounts. Selectman Donovan Hill was absent.
City Administrator Dirkland Smith said Green would work in-house, starting in about a week, up to 8 hours a day for 30 days.
Later in the meeting, Smith presented a new engagement letter with accounting firm Haddox Reid Eubank and Betts, which was hired in October to perform the city’s 2018 and 2019 audits.
That letter detailed the costs for firm employees of varying status and experience to perform tasks for the city, including reconciling accounts.
“I thought that was what we hired Ms. Green to do,” Selectman Devante Johnson said of the pricing scale.
Smith said the firm submitted the letter in response to a board request for a detailed breakdown of what the firm’s employees would be doing for the city.
“We need to make sure we’re not duplicating services,” Selectman Ronnie Brock said, attending the meeting by telephone, and Smith assured Brock he would watch the process carefully.
Smith also presented his plan of budget cuts to help pay back $1.5 million the city had to borrow from the utility department’s capital improvement fund to cover bills charged to the general fund.
Tommy Lindley, a CPA and auditor for Haddox Reid, told board members in November that it appeared the city had less than $400,000 in reserve in the general fund to cover bills until higher levels of property and holiday sales taxes began to be remitted in January.
The borrowed money must be repaid by Sept. 30.
In December, Smith proposed using insurance savings of almost $200,000, a hiring freeze that would save salaries and benefits of more than $650,000 and postponing purchases of about $400,000.
He asked the board to ratify the repayment plan.
Brock asked about a detailed accounting of the cuts by department, and Smith said he could provide that, but the data was the same as provided in December.
The budget cuts and repayment plan were approved 3-2, with Brock and Johnson opposing. Johnson had voiced concerns about the hiring freeze affecting public safety, especially the police department, during Tuesday’s work session, though the board made hires after the budget cut plan was first presented.
In Friday’s meeting, the board approved another police department hire, bringing former officer Cody Cooper back to the city from the sheriff’s department, where he was an investigator.
“It’s a pleasure to do this,” police Chief Damian Gatlin said. “Lord knows we need him.”