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Ludowici audit report contains questionable findings
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The Ludowici City Council was told at its Dec. 13 monthly meeting that the city has been making some business operations errors.

The council recently hired Christopher Lightle — an accountant with Karp, Ronning and Tindal Certified Public Accounting — to be the city’s new auditor.

At the December council meeting, Lightle provided the group with a preliminary report that included some questionable findings.

Some of the concerns that the accountant noted were a lack of budgetary controls, adopted financial controls not being enforced, duplicate payments for some services, cash accounts not being recorded accurately and that financial statements weren’t being reported monthly. 

Even though nepotism isn’t illegal, Lightle said, the city needs to address the issue because it’s problematic and increases the chance of a civil suit for discrimination being filed against the city.

Another issue that arose during Lightle’s report was the recent controversy surrounding Vanessa Cunningham for services paid to her for the 2011 election, revising of the city’s personnel policy and the redistricting of the city. Lightle said the records show that Cunningham had been paid up front for services that she had not yet provided and that he did not recommend paying contractors for services in this manner. 

Council member Jim Fuller was critical of Cunningham, saying she misrepresented the urgency of the city’s need to be redistricted under her title as the board of elections chairwoman.  

Fuller also was critical of the amount of money that Cunningham received for reviewing the personnel policy, but local resident Price Chapman said he felt that the city “got a bargain for what she did.”

Resident Janis Goode said she had an ethics complaint toward the council. The council conducted an illegal meeting Dec. 5, she said, when it appointed Mary Hamilton, even though the business item was not on the agenda. Goode also said city clerk Tara Manning should not have been suspended at that meeting and that no bids were taken for hiring the new auditor. 

After a brief discussion, the council told Goode that it would give her a written response regarding her ethics complaint.
Fuller said he was misled when he was told he could not serve as the recorder pro tem and be on the city council. For this reason, he said, he wanted to withdraw his resignation. 

The council passed a measure to place him back in the position. McClelland, Hamilton and Gwen Davis voted in favor, while Johnny Manning abstained from the vote.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a request for Sean Tucker to apply for a beer and wine license through the state for his property on Highway 84.

• Approved Ludowici/Long County Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Richard Truman to gather bids to replace the roll-up door on the bay at the fire station adjacent to the Ludowici Police Department.

• Approved the installation of the video and audio devices in the meeting room at city hall.

• Approved holding a Christmas party for the city.

• Approved paying $50 Christmas bonuses to all employees, along with an increase of $10 for every year of service with the city.

• Approved all employees to be off Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 for Christmas and Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 for New Year’s.

• Ratified all business that was approved Dec. 5 due to some people questioning that meeting.

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