Macon and Bibb finances earn clean opinion from auditors

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 14, 2014 

Finances of the now-dissolved Macon and Bibb County governments earned a clean opinion from auditors for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

Miller Edwards of auditing firm Mauldin & Jenkins gave the results of the annual audits Tuesday to the new Macon-Bibb County Commission at a nonvoting work session.

Both governments did much more public financial reporting than they were required to, and the number of problems found in those accounts dropped dramatically over the last few years.

The city had more than 60 formal findings or points for improvement in an audit just a few years ago, Edwards said. Now the city has just one audit finding, and the county had none, a tribute to the finance staff of both governments, he said.

“From that standpoint as an auditor, you feel like it’s really a well-oiled machine right now,” Edwards said.

The city’s one audit finding was a breach of state law by not having its bank accounts backed by adequate collateral for short periods of time, he said.

Commissioner Gary Bechtel asked if it wasn’t the bank’s job to make sure that was done. It is the bank’s job to actually collateralize the accounts, Edwards agreed.

“But sometimes they fail,” he said. Ultimately it’s the government’s responsibility to make sure its bank has done what’s required, Edwards said.

Mauldin & Jenkins audited both governments’ accounts and has been approved as auditor for the consolidated government as well.

The city and county together have $512 million in assets and $198 million in liabilities with a net equity of $314 million, Edwards said.

Pension plans actually are overfunded for actuarial purposes, as measured by current accounting standards, he said.

When the new Macon-Bibb government presents its unified accounts, Edwards said, he expects the balance sheet to look much the same. The merger of city and county shouldn’t produce much up-front difference, he said.

Committee structure

Commissioners moved a step closer to setting up individual committees, choosing Bechtel as the third and final member of the “committee on committees.” Mayor Robert Reichert and Mayor Pro Tem Bert Bivins are the other two.

Bivins said the choice should demonstrate the inclusiveness that so many talked about in promoting consolidation. Reichert is white and Bivins is black, covering one angle of inclusion, Bivins said; but both men are Democrats. Bechtel, a Republican, should be the third member, Bivins said.

Reichert agreed. “Congratulations, I think,” he said jokingly to Bechtel.

Decisions of how many committees to have and what subjects they should each handle remain to be made. Reichert proposed schedules and structures for just two committees, with related functions grouped under each.

Commissioners generally liked having committees meet on four Tuesdays each month, before the full regular commission meetings and work sessions, but they didn’t like the idea of just two committees.

Bivins said he received some input from other commissioners on how many committees should be established.

“It varied from four committees to possibly as many as 14,” he said. Commissioners agreed to share their preferences with each other before another discussion set for 3:30 p.m. Friday.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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