City audit reveals $4 million in unaccounted-for taxpayer money

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A $5 million budget deficit is the talk of the town, and it's taking up a good bit of city commissioners' time.

Now there are concerns over an audit, which leaders are counting on to tell them where cuts are possible.

City leaders certainly hoped they would get some clarity on how to deal with this $5 million budget shortfall today.

But instead, they were dealt another budget blow.

Cherry, Bekaert, and Holland, the firm that audits the city, told commissioners the numbers aren't adding up.

In fact, they have found at least $4 million of taxpayer money unaccounted for, and they expect that number to grow.

This means for the first time in years, the city will have to file for an extension with the state of Georgia until they can figure out where this money is.

The firm says bad bookkeeping is partly to blame...but beyond that, the firm is not giving commissioners any other information.

"We got a $5 million budget deficit, we're going to have to file an extension on the audit...we've got issues," says Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver.

"I'm very skeptical of how things will proceed at this point," says interim commissioner Keith Brown. "We've asked for an extension, but we do not know where the problem areas are, and it seems like the commissioners should know."

"We've been struggling to get a handle on our assets, and that struggle continues...and after so many years of struggling with it, it's time to get the house in order," says commissioner Andy Cheek.

This audit is pretty important, as it accounts for $600 million of taxpayer money.

At this point, no city leaders have seen any part of the audit. Many of them say they certainly would like to. Mayor Copenhaver has scheduled a meeting with the accounting firm.