Commissioner Lashunda Scales renewed her campaign for diversity and inclusion as the Jefferson County Commission discussed who will perform auditing duties for the county.
The agenda for today’s commission committee meeting included three resolutions related to external audits.
- Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs and Advisors was the low bidder to perform the audit of the county’s annual financial statements for fiscal 2021-2023.
- Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors was the low bidder for the audit of the county’s schedule of federal awards, known as the “single audit.”
- And Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors was the low bidder for a consulting agreement to monitor the county’s community development block grant disaster recovery programs.
Auditing companies was the subject of heated debate in a commission meeting in August 2020. Scales argued then that the firm of Banks, Finley & White, a minority firm, should be hired to do the county’s annual financial statements. Banks, Finley & White had audited the county’s block grant program.
“I just want to say for the record, I’m truly concerned that we do not have a minority firm involved,” Scales said Tuesday, noting that discussion last year ended with the idea that Banks, Finley & White could be considered going into the next budget year.
“This time, they’re just totally removed,” Scales said. “That concerns me.”
Angela Dixon, the county’s chief financial officer, said a request for proposal was prepared, soliciting bids from firms that wanted the job. The firms in today’s resolutions were the low bidders, she said.
“They (Banks, Finley & White) were not the two top firms,” she said. “We went with the two firms and have identified the reason for that. Mauldin & Jenkins is the lowest bidder, and they have a lot of governmental experience. I think we have a lot of flexibility as it relates to their expertise. Banks, Finley & White was included as one of the bidders but it was not selected or recommended in this.”
Dixon said it is important that Warren Averett remain engaged with the county
“They have had a lot of relationship as far as the operations of the county,” she said. “I think that will be instrumental as we move forward with our refinancing in 2023.
“Also, engaging multiple firms will allow a level of flexibility and concurrence with the audit preparation,” the CFO continued. “As far as the cost, Mauldin & Jenkins was the lowest bidder for all audits, but we do want to recommend that we use two audit firms.”
Scales said that Banks, Finley & White has had a contract with the county for some years and thus has some other governmental experience. “I don’t understand,” she said before voting to move the matter to Thursday’s commission agenda. “I hope that the commission will look further into this so that we are making the best selection.”
Commissioner Steve Ammons presented resolutions providing $150,000 to Innovation Depot and $250,000 to the Birmingham Business Alliance. Commissioner Sheila Tyson expressed concern that funding was not also provided to Birmingham Business Resource Center.
Ammons said Birmingham Business Resource Center will be considered during the next fiscal year, assuring Tyson they won’t have to wait a year before being considered.
“This (appropriation for Innovation Depot and Birmingham Business Alliance) is late this year,” he said. “We can start the conversation early next week. We’ll talk about that. We don’t have to wait that long.”
Commissioners considered when they will have their final discussions on the proposed budget for fiscal 2022. Because of varied scheduling conflicts, the commission will reconvene at 9 a.m. Sept. 16 to discuss and likely pass the budget.