Emergency Financial Manager Joe Harris said Monday's audit presentation to the commission was the first in the city's history. It outlined the debt and 15 deficiencies in financial management. One effect of a deficiency resulted in "out of control spending."
The commissioner's meeting began contentious as Mayor Wilce Cooke and two other commissioner voted against allowing Harris' presentation. They argue Harris did not follow proper procedure to make a presentation during a commissioner's meeting.
Five others voted in favor of hearing the audit and the auditor was allowed to present. Harris said if the commissioners did not vote in favor he would have held the presentation at 200 Paw Paw.
Accountants found the city is $6,082,509 in debt. They also were unable to find data on infrastructure projects beginning after fiscal year 2002, while the most accountants generally require data from 1980 to present.
"The problem is that the finance director was well entrenched. The city manager did not have a plan, had a 62 point plan that did not address the cost of government, which is significant, so in my opinion there needed to be a change," said Harris.
The report left some commissioners wondering how did the problem get to be so bad? Commissioner Duane Seats who voted against allowing the accountant's presentation ended up thanking him for providing the numbers.
Auditors criticized the city in 15 areas:
All of the findings were responded to by the city with a plan to reform.
Harris said he will begin providing commissioners with monthly updates beginning in April. He will hold a town hall meeting later this month to discuss the city's finances with residents.