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Augusta leaders learn more about audit on mayor’s spending

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re hearing from Augusta commissions and the mayor himself after results from an internal audit into the mayor’s spending came out. On Tuesday, city leaders met to iron out some of the questions they had about the results.

A line on the first page of the document, “We were not engaged to conduct an audit,” confused us and commissioners. So that was the first thing the auditor addressed in his presentation.

SME-CPA, the auditor selected by the mayor, made an apology for the wording saying it was “Not very well written.” He clarified the writing by saying this was an audit. However, it was not a financial audit specifically. This audit did look into the mayor’s financials but also how city policies are applied. One finding in the results caught some commissioners eyes.

They found mayor’s office broke city procumbent guidelines by exceeding the $5,000 threshold for several purchases with LC Studios. The mayor spent over $24,000 with LC Studios. After the meeting, we asked the mayor about this. He says his office was unaware of the procurement guidelines when those purchases were made. But they are currently undergoing procumbent training as well as training for the new credit card policy.

“The two entities that are tasked with being the guardrails of the city, at no point in time have they came to us prior to today and said, you’re operating outside of what’s allowed. That could’ve and should’ve happen. That didn’t. But now that we have a credit card policy in place, we’ll consistently not only operate within that, but more importantly my hope, as that was asked by commissioners, is that procurement put in place those things necessary,” said Mayor Hardie Davis Jr.

“It fully affirmed what we’ve said since day one. That there’s been no misappropriation of funds, that we operated within our budget of what was allowed by the Augusta Commission. And thirdly that the state laws that changed in 2016, the city of Augusta has now adopted a credit card policy that applies to all credit cards, not just the mayor’s office,” said Davis.

For some commissioners, this audit cleared up many questions, but for others it only fueled the need for another one.

“I didn’t get the answers I was looking for, and I’d like to see a forensic audit that’s where I have been all along. I would have hoped this would have eased my thoughts on the forensic audit,” said Commissioner Catherine Smith Mcknight, District 3.

The mayor also said this audit should ease transparency concerns. But at least two commissioners have said they are not pleased. They still think an additional audit is still needed.

READ THE AUDIT:

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