County office willing to help with fuel audit
A forthcoming forensic audit will take a look at all of the city’s functions, not just the city’s fuel consumption, which has come under fire following a report filed by consultant Bill Towler.
The city likely will enter into an interlocal agreement with Lee County, so that two auditors can be provided to the city auditor’s office, which has been struggling with staffing levels.
Those auditors will make $56 an hour as part of the interlocal agreement. The figure also includes their benefits.
Clerk of the Courts Charlie Green said his office will give the city a sound and fair accounting.
“We’re not affiliated with the city, we’re not part of the city, and these people do this for a living,” he said in phone interview Wednesday.
His office performs the service at a cost, Green said, and there is no mark-up associated with the services.
“We charge them what it actually costs,” Green said. “There is no additional fee. It’s a good deal.”
He was not sure how much time it would take for his office to complete its review, should the city sign the interlocal agreement drafted.
“There’s nothing more difficult than to track fluid,” he said. “Maybe 300 to 400 hours. That’s a guess; it all depends on what we find.”
Chuck Short, director of the county’s internal audit service, said his office is familiar with tracking fuel. He said the office recently audited the county’s fleet and fuel consumption.
Short said his initial reaction to reading media coverage and Towler’s report was “been there, done that.”
“Unfortunately it does happen,” Short said of fuel theft. “We’ve seen it before.”
Short predicts the audit will take “three months maximum;” the office has not seen any documentation from the city.
Should the interlocal agreement be signed, he said the office would be “interviewing city employees and looking at records” while conducting the audit.
Short said if the auditors discover malfeasance, the matter would be turned over to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office or State Attorney’s office.
Any audit would remain confidential until completed, Short said, and the two county employees would not work directly out of the city auditor’s office.
The length of the proposed interlocal agreement is for one year, with an option to renew for a year, if needed. It’s unknown when city council will discuss, and or vote, on the interlocal agreement.