MBCIA working to get money back, enforcing new invoice procedure
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority (MBCIA) is not only, working to get money it lost on projects that were not complete, but it also taking measures to make sure the organization never loses money again.
For the first time since the demand was made public, the chairman of the authority and the mayor answered questions. The most important one, how did the industrial authority manage to lose nearly $2 million? Some of which was taxpayer money.
The Industrial Authority board met Wednesday afternoon for its properties committee meeting. MBCIA chairman, Robby Fountain addressed the media before going into executive session and answered questions after executive session.
Fountain clarified that former Industrial Authority Chairman and Executive Director, Cliffard Whitby was in charge of checking projects and signing off them.
“The executive director’s job is to make sure he signs and initials to make sure that he’s telling you all the work is done,” said Fountain.
Whitby did both duties, that’s how work that was not completed or even started was paid for without being checked. It was not until Whitby resigned, shortly after being indicted for fraud, that the MBCIA decided to investigate.
“Some questions came up at that time. We felt the need to go through further with an investigation,” said Fountain.
During his time at the authority, Whitby signed off on several projects from Armstead Management, New Age Concept and Consulting and WM Construction. Projects that the Industrial Authority later found were never completed or even started. On April 2nd, MBCIA sent out a demand to those three companies, asking for the money they were paid in full back.
“There was a break down in the system, and it was flawed,” said Fountain.
When Stephen Adams became the Executive Director and Robby Fountain became, chairman, the procedure changed.
“Invoices are coming in and are dated by our administrative systems,” said Adams. “Invoices are then approved by the relative party who has been overseeing that work, whether it be the project manager or the engineer, or even our legal counsel or myself.”
Invoices are then approved by the operations manager and signed off by the Chairman and Executive Director.
MBCIA is waiting for a response from the three companies. The contractors were supposed to have the money by Wednesday, but asked for an extension. They now have until the end of the month to pay up.
MBCIA has also put a new system in place that would alert the staff if a check or invoice were duplicated.
“You always learn lessons as you go forward as to how you can do better,” said Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert. “But I’m confident the that this matter is being adequately handled and appropriately handled by staff here at the Industrial Authority.”