Warner Robins government to back Independence Day Celebration

mstucka@macon.comMarch 3, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- City leaders have decided that the Independence Day show should, indeed, go on. But wary of becoming directly involved in fundraising or organizing the event themselves, council members indicated Monday they will offer words of support and a contribution, but they won’t formally vote on the fireworks show itself or take on a management role.

The Warner Robins Downtown Development Authority has been planning to organize the city’s celebration, which traditionally has melded a live music show with fireworks. Last year’s concert, organized by the Civitan Club, was rained out twice before it was canceled, and the fireworks show wasn’t launched until August. For decades, the event had been run by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, which backed out last year.

In a pre-council meeting Monday, Mayor Randy Toms summarized the consensus by saying the city government would tell organizers the council appreciates them and supports their efforts.

That followed a suggestion by Councilman Mike Davis, who attended the last Downtown Development Authority meeting where the effort was discussed.

“My take is: We can be a sponsor, but we don’t need to be in charge of nothing,” he said. That’s the approach the City Council took.

The city government also agreed to become involved, in a small way, with a mass transit project.

Council members are scheduled to vote on allowing a corner of Alex Ferguson Park to be used as a park-and-ride lot for the Macon Transit Authority, which will add a stop there on the line that connects downtown Macon to Robins Air Force Base.

The stop has been discussed for months, but no action had been taken.

Separately, the city’s external auditors gave the government a clean bill of health but strongly urged its leaders to get an internal auditor. City Council had budgeted $35,000 for an internal auditor but never hired or contracted with anyone.

Marlan Nichols, a partner at Nichols, Cauley & Associates, said an internal auditor could help find shortcomings in internal controls to avoid the kinds of problems found within the Bibb County school system, in which an auditor found the superintendent had spent millions above his authority. Those kinds of “management overrides” can cost “a supreme amount of money,” Nichols said. But he didn’t find evidence of those problems here.

“The city of Warner Robins is sound financially,” he said. “The city of Warner Robins is well managed, and the financial statements reflect the fact that it’s well managed.”

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