BAKER — A scheduled meeting with Baker’s city auditor Tuesday night was pushed back to next Wednesday, prompting some City Council members to fear a repeat of 2016, when the city’s audit was turned in months late.

“My concern is this is following the same pattern as last year. Remember, the audit has to be submitted (to the state) by Dec. 31,” council member Brenda Jackson said.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to meet at 4 p.m. Dec. 27 to discuss the audit for the 2016-17 fiscal year after Mayor Darnell Waites assured the council members the audit will be submitted to the state legislative auditor by the deadline.

CPA Melvin Davis conducted the city’s fiscal year 2015-16 audit and submitted it nearly four months late, blaming bookkeeping problems in the city government. As a result of the lax records, as well as the tardiness of the audit, the state placed Baker on its noncompliance list.

Since then, the city has been working with the state to improve its accounting practices, hiring CPA Mary Sue Stages and accounting firm Faulk & Winkler to assist city officials.

In July, the city hired accounting firm Bruno & Tervalon to replace Davis, who declined to apply to conduct the city’s 2016-17 audit.

In November, Joseph Akanaji of Bruno & Tervalon told the council the audit was halfway complete and promised to meet with the City Council on Dec. 19 to present the final findings before submitting the report to the state.

New auditor promises the Baker City Council that the next audit will be turned in on time

The city’s charter stipulates the City Council must receive a copy of the audit before its submission to the state.

Waites told the council members Tuesday they will receive copies of the audit before Bruno & Tervalon submits it to the state.

“(Akanaji) can come back in January and explain it to you all,” the mayor said.

Councilwoman Glenda Bryant added that Akanaji could meet with council members individually to explain the finer points of the audit.

“I don’t want to meet with him individually. He needs to do this in an open meeting," council member Doris Alexander said. "This is not right. That’s not what he was supposed to do. I hope my colleagues hold him to his word. It needs to be in public, so people can hear.”

In other business Tuesday, Alexander announced that the city’s Jingle and Mingle event will be held Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Baker Municipal Auditorium, 3325 Groom Road. Santa Claus will be in attendance and giveaways will include turkeys, hams, gift cards, and bicycles. Dinner will be served. The event is free and open to the public.

The Baker Heritage Museum, 1606 Main St., will be decorated for Christmas and open to the public Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. with free coffee and hot chocolate available.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story was modified Wednesday, Dec. 20. The earlier post incorrectly identified CPA Mary Sue Stages as Mary Sue Staples. The Advocate regrets the error.