BAY ST. LOUIS -- The Office of the State Auditor will begin probing the city's finance department in light of numerous violations of state regulations identified in a recent fiscal audit.
The City Council unanimously passed a motion Tuesday night to have OSA investigators conduct a "performance and compliance review" of the city's finances. The motion was the result of ongoing communications between the council and State Auditor Stacey Pickering's office.
Fifteen findings of deficiencies or noncompliance with state or federal laws regarding Bay St. Louis' finances for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014, were noted in an independent auditor's report released to the public in November. Ten of the findings are instances of noncompliance with state or federal laws and regulations, including a U.S. Department of Justice equitable-sharing fund that is missing about $300,000.
Council President Joey Boudin said Pickering's office sent the council a letter, offering to send investigators to the city for two months and outlining specific areas of cooperation the city would have to provide.
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Reading aloud from the letter, Boudin said the OSA needs the city to provide various financial records and organizational charts identifying city employees and their levels of authority.
The investigators also need office space. Council members settled on the city's community center to fulfill that requirement.
The OSA said the cost of the probe would be about $8,750.
Before voting on the matter, Councilwoman Wendy McDonald pointed out the city's tight budget.
"This wasn't in the budget," she said.
Councilman Doug Seal agreed, saying the council would have to amend the budget.
OSA investigators will begin conducting field work Jan. 4 and hope to complete the review no later than March 4, the letter said.