BAKER — The City Council agreed Tuesday night on procedures for hiring a CPA to audit the city's books for 2016-17.
The council set a deadline of July 7 to apply for the job and will schedule interviews for July 11 and 12.
Melvin Davis, the certified public accountant who conducted the city's audit for 2015-16 and 2014-15, declined to apply for a new contract with Baker.
Accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville, which did the audit in 2013-14, expressed no interest in a new contract after one year of working with the city.
Due to accounting issues, Davis submitted the 2016-17 audit with a disclaimer, meaning that in his opinion the city's record keeping was incomplete and problematic.
As a result of the findings from the auditor, as well as the lateness of the audit, the state legislative auditor placed the city on its noncompliance list, resulting in a freeze of grant funds coming into the city.
Baker has hired accounting firm Faulk & Winkler to help the city comply with the legislative auditor to be removed from the list.
Newly appointed interim city finance director Mary Sue Stages advised the council to appoint an auditor as soon as possible.
"You are supposed to engage an auditor before the end of the fiscal year, say in April, to give them time to get started," she said.
Councilman Pete Heine echoed the sentiment, stressing that the city needs to be on time this year submitting the audit.
Part of the reason for the city's noncompliance status is that it submitted the audit over a month late, after missing an extension the state granted in response to the August flooding.
After Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Darnell Waites said he expects the state to remove the city from the noncompliance list once it appoints an auditor.
The council also unanimously approved amendments to the 2016-17 budget.
Making the changes is part of the process of working with the legislative auditor to get the city ff the noncompliance list and must be done by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Most of the extra expenditures were for flood recovery and the city should be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance, Waites said.
The general fund amendment reflects a $792,000 increase in revenues over what was budgeted, raising the total from $8.3 million to $9 million.
Expenditures came in $1.5 million over budget, making the total $10.6 million.
Other funds, such as the cemetery fund and the utility fund, also required amendments.
"When you spend more money than you take in, you have to amend the budget," Heine said. The state "has their eyes on us, everything we do."
In other business, the council unanimously agreed for councilwoman Glenda Bryant to serve as council president and Heine as vice president from July 1 through June 30, 2018.
Also, councilwoman Brenda Jackson announced that a town hall meeting regarding educational empowerment and awareness will be held 6:30 p.m. July 18 at the Baker Municipal Auditorium on Groom Road.