BAKER — The city of Baker is now nearly three months late in submitting its audit to the state — and until that’s accomplished, the city cannot receive any state or federal grant money, Mayor Harold Rideau said.
Melvin Davis, the certified public accountant hired in September to complete the audit, told the City Council on Tuesday the city’s “records were not in condition (for an audit). The final general ledgers were not ready until Nov. 30, one month from when the audit was due.”
“We will get it taken care of,” Rideau said after the meeting, noting the city is on the legislative auditor’s noncompliance list for missing the December deadline.
Davis said he hopes to finish by next week and added that preparing the city’s audit has been a challenge.
“The city has a long way to go. Let’s leave it at that,” he said.
Davis declined to discuss the audit in detail, saying some things might change before he finishes.
The city should be in a better position for future audits going forward after this audit is finished, Davis said.
“I take responsibility. Some of this lies on me as a city official. This man (Davis) is as thorough as you can get. He dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s,” said the outgoing mayor, who did not seek re-election. “But let me make a recommendation to the next council: Don’t change auditors.”
A new auditor would have to relearn all of the policies and procedures of the city before conducting the audit, Rideau said.
Accounting firm Postlethwaite and Netterville, which performed the city’s 2013-14 audit, declined to conduct the 2014-15 audit. Before P&N was hired in 2013, the Stages auditing firm served Baker for 50 years.
In other business, Rideau recognized Charles Vincent, who was re-elected as District 1 council member, and Brenda Jackson, who defeated incumbent John Givens in District 5 with 60 percent of the vote.
District 2 incumbent Pete Heine will be in the April 9 runoff with Cleveland Thomas, and District 4 incumbent Robert Young will face Baker school board member Doris Alexander. Troy Watson and Glenda Bryant will be in the runoff for the District 3 seat.
The current District 3 council member, Joyce Burges, did not seek re-election and lost in her bid for Baker mayor. Former Baker mayor Leroy Davis and Baker city administrator Darnell Waites will compete in the runoff for that office.
All of the candidates are Democrats.
Rideau also recognized Carl Dunn, who was elected Baker police chief. Longtime Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps did not seek re-election.
Canvassing the community was the key to his win, Dunn said, including knocking on doors and holding cookouts.
“I want people to know that I will continue to do the same thing I did to get elected,” he said.
The newly elected officials will begin their terms in July.