MADEIRA BEACH - City officials brought in a CPA firm several months ago to take a closer look at some of the operations and processes at the City Marina.
The detailed audit had an initial fee of $15,000, but City Manager Jonathan Evans reported to the City Commission Sept. 4 that an additional $35,000 is needed to complete the study, raising the total cost to $50,000.
Evans said the city needs to take a more complete and detailed look “at all the internal controls and operations at the marina.” A variety of different things are being examined, he said, including cash-handling policies, best-management practices, security, some of the accounting measures and financial systems.
Commissioner Nancy Hodges questioned the added $35,000 cost of the audit.
“What is it they are looking for?” she asked. “What is the problem?”
Finance Director Walter Pierce said the city’s regular auditor had run some tests during his yearly audit of the city finances and “raised some concerns” about the marina operation. He recommended the more complete forensic audit be done that “drills down deeper,” Pierce said.
Evans said the CPA firm will make recommendations when their audit is complete, and there may be some items at the marina that will have to be modified immediately, while others, because of costs, will have to be completed over a number of years.
“I can’t tell you right now what specific actions we will take,” Evans said, “but I do know security is an issue. We do need to make some improvements in the security of the site.”
Evans also said similar, more detailed audits should be done on all the city departments and cost centers.
Several residents wanted to know what problems had occurred at the marina that prompted the additional scrutiny.
“Why are we doing this? What red flags were raised?” said Robert Preston. That question was also raised by Laurie Tyner.
The commission voted 5 to 1, with Hodges opposed, to spend an extra $35,000 to do the complete audit.
“I ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, and I think this is money well spent,” said Commissioner Deby Weinstein.
“We have the responsibility to look after the assets and money of the city,” said Commissioner John Douthirt. He also said the more detailed forensic audit should be extended to other city departments.
“I’m not saying anybody is dishonest, but the temptation is there, let’s face it,” Douthirt said.