June 28, 2011 by wcobserver
By Steve Winkler
LITTLE ROCK – The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee was satisfied with West Fork’s assurance that their annual audits will be brought into compliance. Mayor Frances Hime, city attorney Tom Kieklak and seven council members appeared to testify before the committee in Little Rock on June 9 regarding the city’s failure to complete city audits in a timely manner. The city is five year’s behind on a state mandated annual audit; the last audit was completed in October 2010 for the years 2004 and 2005.
Kieklak explained to the committee,composed of state representatives and senators, that the city’s previous auditor was diagnosed with cancer and the city was “shy about hurrying his work or terminating” the agreement. A new administration hired another auditor and the audits are getting caught up, he said.
Only the mayor and city attorney spoke or answered questions from the committee. Kieklak presented copies of the minutes of the last special council meeting and assured the committee that the council has taken action and funds have been budgeted to complete the audits. Mayor Hime told the committee the five outstanding audits would be completed by June 2012.
Representative Stephen Meeks asked Hime why the city didn’t ask the state auditors to complete the audits. The state’s Legistlative Joint Auditing Committee provides audits for municipalities at no charge. Committee Chair June Barron pointed out that the state had been requested to do the audits, but it was decided that the city get caught up first.
Representative Justin Harris of West Fork, a First Alternate on the committee, asked Mayor Hime, who was at fault for the city falling behind on the audits. Hime replied that there were “stories” but she had not seen any documentation. She said the city’s business manager had not told her about a Dec. 14 contract he’s signed to retain a private auditor to provide four years of audits. Hime added that the business manager, had been removed from that position.
Harris pressed Hime for a reason the audits haven’t been completed and questioned the ability of the “staff.”
Kieklak said those issues can be “hashed out” but “we should move forward; it can never happen again.”
Mayor Hime addressed the committee saying that no one individual was responsible noting that only council members Shafer and Caudle were on the previous council. She said,”It’s a democratic collective process; we’ll go forward, this council is ready, they have a vision…”