The city of Apalachicola has completed its audit for the fiscal year 2016-17, about six months late, and it’s going to fall into an unusual category.
It will have a disclaimer on it, in which Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC will say it cannot vouch for all the info contained within.
The audit was submitted to the state by the end of the year, about six months after the June 30, 2018 deadline.
Had it not been submitted by then, the city could have been in trouble with the state, since the legislature’s joint committee that reviews these audits could have ordered that revenue sharing funds, such as local option gas tax funds, be withheld.
But as it stands now, having a disclaimer on the audit won’t mean monies are withheld, but it could mean that potential private sector lenders will look askance when and if the city seeks a loan.
The city’s audit committee, specifically empowered to seek out an auditor for its 2017-18 fiscal year, meat during the Christmas break and tried to convince the lead auditor with Carr, Riggs not to have a disclaimer, but he wouldn’t budge.
He said there was no evidence of ethical misconduct, just a failure to secure all the necessary documentation from city officials. Disclaimers are rare, much less common than a clean report, or a negative one in which the auditor states the declared numbers do not jibe with their findings.
“I don’t know why some of this wasn’t provided to me,” said the auditor. “The city has had ample opportunity to come up with this information. We did not believe city staff was giving us a hard time.”
City Manager Ron Nalley said the auditing firm should have been more diligent in securing the information.
“In my opinion they should have asked to meet. There as a breakdown between auditor and staff,” he said.
Despina George, a citizen member of the audit committee, tried to persuade the auditors to consider an alternative finding, but to no avail. She had summarized the list of auditor’s concerns, but he insisted there would be no time before the end of the year to address them all.
“What I’m hoping is the 17-18 audit will be better news for the city and will show proper internal controls are being put into place,” said Nalley. “Which will help eliminate the disclaimer. I know staff has been working hard. All of our contracts are where they should be and all the invoices have supporting information.”