Supervisors hear budget requests, audit report

After several years of clean audits, the Copiah County Board of Supervisors recently received a nasty shock: nine findings noted in the 2007 audit.

During Monday’s board meeting, representatives of the State Auditor’s Office explained that many counties have received similar findings due to changes in standards under the new administration. The auditors remarked that steps have already been taken to correct the issues and noted that Copiah County has always done a good job in the past.

The board noted the findings and agreed to comply with the recommendations of the audit department.

Six of the findings were classed as “immaterial” or not significant. The auditors recommended strengthening internal controls and operating efficiency in several areas to comply with the regulations. The immaterial findings include: county should properly complete federal grant activity schedules. Rent receipts should be posted to a different fund. State treasurer’s quarterly reports should be reconciled to the county’s bank info, the annual report submitted by October 31 and the bank notified when appropriate. A written computer disaster recovery plan should be established. The chancery clerk should settle mineral stamp collections by the 15th day of each month. The inventory control clerk should reconcile the county’s asset balances to the audited asset balances.

Three material findings were noted in the 2007 audit. Two involved the preparation of financial statements – which has been done by the auditors in the past but new guidelines now prohibit it – and the inclusion of financial data for the county’s component units in the financial statements.  “Component units” include the hospital, economic development district, airport, etc.

The county will have to hire a CPA in future to prepare financial statements.

The final finding called for control procedures for the preparation of detailed aged accounts for solid waste fees.  Supervisors and auditors agreed that solid waste fee collections is a headache for all counties.

OTHER BUSINESS

Katrina Castilaw presented the library system’s budget request for the new year, which is basically the same as last year, she explained.

Dr. Ronnie Nettles, president of Copiah-Lincoln Community College, presented the annual budget request. Co-Lin has about 3200 students, about 500 from Copiah County, Nettles told the board. About $280,000 was awarded in scholarships and another $1 million in financial aid. Nettles estimated the college’s impact on Copiah at about $5.7 million. Co-Lin has a total budget of about $24 million, with about $700,000 as  Copiah County’s portion.

Dave Van presented the Region 8 budget request.

Cultural affairs director Dr. Janet Schriver updated the board on activities at Heritage House and with the juvenile justice program. Plans were discussed for groundbreaking ceremonies at the Robert Johnson house this fall.

Real and personal tax rolls were equalized.

Advertisement of the Sept. 15 budget hearing was authorized.

A part time employee in the 911 center was terminated in an executive session for personnel discussion.

AUGUST 14 MEETING

The board granted Southeast Supply Header a direct lease agreement on the Universal building. The company formerly responsible for brokering the original lese, T G Mercer, will no longer be retained. The new terms take effect November 1. The company has agreed to lease the entire building for 14 months, then will lease on a month-to-month basis after December 31, 2009. During the 14 month period, SESH will pay the county $.85 per square foot of the 123,000 sq. ft. facility. On January 1, 2010 the price will increase to $.95 per square foot.

Bids for the state aid road project were opened. Blain was the low bidder of $3,394,202.15 on the 32.7 mile project that was estimated to cost $2,790,265. The board, at the direction of county engineer Joe Johnson, has taken the matter under advisement to see if any projected costs can be reduced or cut.

A request to grant a five-year exemption on expansion at Advance Auto Parts was approved. Tax assessor Todd Mooney explained that Advance will be filing two more over the next two years. The company, Mooney stated, will still pay school, fire and road and bridge taxes.

After a lengthy discussion with an attorney who represents the family of late bluesman Tommy Johnson, the board by declaration will build and maintain a road to the Warm Springs Cemetery in north Copiah County. The issue has plagued the board for years, becoming more prevalent since blues music has become a much larger tourist attraction. Johnson is believed to be buried in the cemetery, along with several other family members.

The truck once driven by supervisor Jimmy Phillips was turned over to the county’s auto insurance company, after the county insurer totaled the vehicle. The vehicle was struck by lightning during a recent storm, and became inoperable. Phillips will be have the use of another county vehicle that was already in inventory.

A letter notifying residents of an increase in garbage bills will be sent. Waste Management, who has the solid waste collection contract for the county, notified the county that the increase will be $.47 per unit.

The board accepted a $75,000 waste tire collection grant.

The Sheriff’s department received permission to legally advertise for three weeks their intent to sell several abandoned vehicles at a future auction.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 9 a.m.

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