Supervisors frustrated about continuous audit delays

Published 3:01 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors still doesn’t have its 2019 audit, which is needed for the officials to move forward on many projects.

Frustration is the nicest way to put how county officials seemed to feel about the situation during the board’s June 20 meeting.

“He said he’d have it to me last week, and then this week, but we don’t have it,” County Administrator Daniel Calcote told the board.

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These are the same words Calcote has had to say to the board for months.

“Unbelievable,” said Jerry Wilson of District 1. District 3’s Nolan Williamson just grimaced, while District 4’s Eddie Brown shook his head. District 2’s Jerry McGehee and District 5’s Doug Falvey glanced at each other while scowling.

County officials have good reason to be frustrated, if not completely angered by the audit snafu: It’s costing them money when inflation is already eating away at the funds that can be used to repair roads.

“We are currently trying to borrow $8 million in bond monies for road projects,” Calcote told the Daily Leader Tuesday. “I don’t know when this process started, but it was ongoing when I came to work for the county in November.

“Our bond counsel cannot issue the loan to us until we have the Fiscal Year 2019 audit complete, plus at least a compilation of our FY2020 financial statements.”

The bond funds for road projects is money that will be well received, considering how inflation, employee and supply shortages, and the rising costs of fuel will end up eating more of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds supervisors want to use to rebuild roads and bridges in the county.

The 2019 audit is being conducted by Fortenberry & Ballard PC out of Brandon. The audit process began last year, which means the company has been working on the audit a minimum of eight months, well beyond the time it normally takes to complete one.

Calcote had told supervisors in meetings during May and June that he’s already reached out to the Mississippi State Auditor about doing the county’s audits from now on. The supervisors seemed mollified with this plan, especially since it is so difficult to find auditors who will do government audits.

“The supervisors are frustrated because they expected the bond monies weeks ago and this is holding up projects,” Calcote said.

“Plus, with interest rates going up, the cost of borrowing this money is going up significantly.”