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Avondale Estates City Commission considering hiring new auditing firm

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Avondale Estates City Commission considering hiring new auditing firm

Avondale Estates City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

 Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission is considering hiring a new firm to conduct the fiscal year 2022 financial audit. 

At the Feb. 22 work session, City Manager Patrick Bryant said the city’s annual financial report for fiscal year 2021 was not submitted by the required deadline. On Wednesday night, he said the auditing work has been completed, and the only step left is for the auditing firm to file the audit with the state auditor’s office. 

“We anticipate that happening any day now,” Bryant said. 

Once the audit is filed, the city will be in compliance, and all issues will be resolved.

When this happens, a city becomes non-compliant and may not be eligible to receive new grant funding from the state. Bryant previously said the city was not facing any punishment or ineligibility for grant funding the city has already received. 

The city commission hired a consultant to prepare the 2021 audit when the city didn’t have a finance director. 

The city, however, was not satisfied with the timeline for conducting the 2021 audit.

“We were not satisfied with any reason given, which essentially was none, by the firm as to the reason that it has taken so long to produce the audit report,” Bryant said. “Even as soon as [Tuesday], we had a phone conversation with the firm to discuss that, and no reasonable answer was able to be given.” 

City staff has been soliciting quotes from other firms. They have received a quote from Mauldin and Jenkins of $42,000-$53,000, depending on the contract. The quotes included a three-year and a five-year auditing commitment. Mauldin and Jenkins also have guaranteed the audit would be completed by the deadline of June 30 for the fiscal year 2022 audit. 

The city did not take any action on the quote, and is still seeking additional quotes from auditing firms. 

“I think it’s not a bad idea, after some level of a number of cycles, to have someone else bid it out and have someone else take a look at it,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher said. 

In other business: 

 – The city commission discussed the 2023 sanitation and stormwater fees. DeKalb County has asked the city to set its special assessment fees, like sanitation and stormwater, by mid-April. 

Bryant recommended that the sanitation fee remain at $596 per resident. 

The city is in the process of reevaluating its sanitation services, which could include a shift to curbside garbage collection. 

“Now, if the sanitation program were to change at all during the time between now and next year when we go through this process again and result in the cost of the program, whether that be decreased or increased, we can address that ourselves,” Bryant said. “Meaning that we could issue refunds or collect additional fees if we need to ourselves.”

He added that maintaining the fee would ensure the city is still collecting the revenue needed to cover the existing program, in case there are no changes to the sanitation services. 

Bryant also did not recommend any changes to the stormwater fee. 

– During the regular meeting, Bryant reminded the community that the state of the city address is on Thursday, March 30, at 6 p.m. at Wild Heaven Brewery. The city will provide one beverage from Wild Heaven and one food item from Mascogo Tacos for those in attendance. 

“We look forward to seeing as many people in this community who wants to come out and listen to what’s going on and learn more about the future direction of the city,” Bryant said. 

Resident Lyda Steadman noted during public comment that she found it odd to have the state of the city address at a local brewery. 

“I don’t think that all residents would necessarily feel comfortable in that environment, so it just doesn’t seem like an appropriate place to have the state of the city meeting,” she said. “It also doesn’t seem of any concern that this has been a place where election parties have been held for commissioners here. It is an election year, and I don’t think the optics are very good.”

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