MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Two county commissioners in Macon-Bibb are demanding a forensic analysis of all county finances since consolidation. They made the announcement at a news conference earlier this afternoon.
This announcement comes after a $6 million jump in projection for the county’s deficit. Not only is this the first time the city or county has been in this much debt. Commissioner Elaine Lucas says this is the first time she and Joe Allen have felt a forensic audit was necessary.
“We don’t know what we’re dealing with. You can’t run a government, nor a business or your own home that way,” Allen told 41NBC.
After a drastic change in numbers, he and Lucas are calling on the mayor and commission to take a closer look.
“After discussion with Ms. Elaine Lucas, it is our opinion that we must ask the board of commissioners to immediately call for a forensic audit of all macon-bibb county finances.”
Allen and Lucas say they don’t know how the county’s projected deficit went from $10 million to $16 million but that Mayor Robert Reichert’s budget proposal of cuts to employee benefits, funding to county agencies and increasing the millage rate for a second year in a row is unfair to residents.
“They’re first of all wanting to know why we’re in a deficit situation when they were promised that this would not happen and secondly, they’re demanding to know why they’re being asked to shoulder the entire load of this along with our employees,” Lucas said of angry residents.
Reichert who says he had no knowledge of the news conference or their feelings beforehand called it a political stunt.
“I have come to expect political stunts from both of these commissioners but this takes political stunts to a new level that I think is worse than regrettable,” he said.
The forensic audit would detail all expenditures including any fraud or misuse of county money. Though Lucas and Allen say finding fraudulent or criminal activity isn’t the goal, Mayor Reichert says there’s no other reason they would make such a demand.
“A forensic audit suggests criminal misconduct, intentional misconduct, that I find personally offensive and I cant’ tell you how strongly I feel about that allegation,” he asserted.
Lucas and Allen say they don’t know how much it would cost or how long it would take, but threatened to take it to a grand jury if the commission and mayor don’t comply. Reichert disagreed on hiring an outside source but welcomed the investigation with open arms.
“I think that we would be wasting our money to get a third party involved to come in. Instead I would go directly to the district attorney.” I’d be more than happy to be transparent open cooperate fully to dispel any notion that my administration has been dishonest, deceptive, and anything other than transparent open and honest.”
Macon-Bibb County conducts an annual audit at the end of each fiscal year from an external source. Lucas and Allen want to take that a step further and have the forensic audit conducted by a source outside the area.
The discussion will likely continue tommorow at the next budget hearing scheduled for noon. June 30th is the deadline.