Georgia lawmakers defeat Augusta audit bill

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:31 AM
Last updated 11:07 PM
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ATLANTA — The House of Representatives defeated legislation Wednesday that would have required major contractors with the city of Augusta to submit to forensic audits every four years.

The 53-92 vote killed House Bill 1235, submitted by Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta. He said when he introduced it that he was concerned about the city’s finances and thought the audits would give the public more confidence in the government.

It would have required audits of contractors that make more than $500,000 annually from the city. Murphy said it was aimed at contractors that perform services for the public on behalf of the city, such as the firms that operate the bus line and golf course. He said the bill also included audits of departments and authorities with budgets above $500,000.

Its defeat was a little unusual because it was a bill that concerned only one city. Normally, such local legislation is voted on unanimously along with all other local bills up for consideration that day.

HB 1235 was pulled out of the list and voted on separately. The rest of the list dealing with other individual cities and counties passed with just four “no” votes.

Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles said he wasn’t surprised the Democrat-sponsored local bill was defeated.

“I think most people saw it as an attempt to make it financially difficult for private management companies to bid on government contracts,” Bowles said.

The chairman of the Augusta legislative delegation, Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, said he will ask the House on Monday to reconsider its action.

Rep. Barbara Sims, the lone Republican in the House delegation, objected to the bill.

Local bills aren’t debated on the House floor.

Staff Writer Susan McCord contributed to this article.

Comments (18) Add comment
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iLove
626
Points
iLove 03/14/12 - 10:50 am
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0
"Its defeat was a little
Unpublished

"Its defeat was a little unusual because it was a bill that only concerned one city. Normally, such local legislation is voted on unanimously along with all of the other local bills up for consideration that day."

Austin Rhodes
2989
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Austin Rhodes 03/14/12 - 11:13 am
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Only AFTER the local

Only AFTER the local government in question passes the same measure. The Augusta Commission did NOT pass this.

itsanotherday1
48336
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itsanotherday1 03/14/12 - 11:23 am
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Will they, given the

Will they, given the opportunity?

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 03/14/12 - 11:39 am
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Rejection ! IN your face

Rejection ! IN your face accuracy !!

dichotomy
37500
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dichotomy 03/14/12 - 12:14 pm
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And just what does a forensic

And just what does a forensic audit of every major contractor cost? I mean, a FORENSIC audit does sound more detailed and thorough than a regular audit. We all know who will pay for it, one way or another. Us! Did Murphy pose any past situation where a forensic audit would have saved the taxpayer more money than what these forensic audits would cost us? Did the taxpayers ask for forensic audits of contractors? Did the commissioners ask for forensic audits of contractors? Is Murphy in cahoots with an audit firm? What needs to be audited is the contractor's proposal BEFORE the contract is approved.

I personally would rather have a forensic audit of the SPLOST funds and where they ACTUALLY get spent, especially audits of the money that goes to the non-governmental 501(3)(c) entities that do not have a very good cost/benefit ratio for the average taxpayer. I'd venture to say those would be much more exciting audit reports.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/14/12 - 12:23 pm
0
0
Walter Jones is a little

Walter Jones is a little sloppy in his reporting again:

Its defeat was a little unusual because it was a bill that only concerned one city. Normally, such local legislation is voted on unanimously along with all of the other local bills up for consideration that day.

No, Mr. Jones, the defeat was not unusual. Those local bills that pass unanimously are the ones where the local legislative delegation is unanimous in support. In cases such as this one, where a legislator (particular a legislator in the majority party) is opposed to the bill, the bill is evaluated on its merits. Quincy Murphy's bill had no merits. Any possible benefits to be derived from the audits would be far overshadowed by the costs — costs we taxpayers would ultimately pay.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/14/12 - 12:28 pm
0
0
Okay, either Quincy Murphy is

Okay, either Quincy Murphy is clueless or I am. We learn above the following:

House Bill 1235 . . . would have required audits of contractors that make more than $500,000 annually from the city. Murphy said it was aimed at contractors that perform services for the public on behalf of the city, such as the firms that operate the . . . golf course.

Excuse me, but the golf course deal was described as having the city rent the course to Aberdeen. It is not a contract, it is a lease. Aberdeen is paying the city, not the other way around.

Am I wrong or is Quincy?

willie7
1047
Points
willie7 03/14/12 - 12:40 pm
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0
Austin, the commissioners
Unpublished

Austin, the commissioners didn't appreoved the district map in HB 776, sponsored by Rep.Sims.

Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 03/14/12 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Why would educRATS and other

Why would educRATS and other bureaucRATS fear forensic audits- and audits of every other stripe?

Sweet son
11651
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Sweet son 03/14/12 - 03:55 pm
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@Craig, you are right!!! Our

@Craig, you are right!!! Our local "rats" as you put it don't want anyone to actually do an audit on how our money is being spent! I think Quincy had the right idea with his bill. He is probably not in good standing with the local 10 plus 1!!

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/14/12 - 04:01 pm
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Department heads could check

Department heads could check on how the money is being spent as part of their normal job duties. We would not have to hire private CPAs to do audits.

But that's too much like work, and Fred is averse to that.

Riverman1
93803
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Riverman1 03/14/12 - 04:06 pm
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0
Cost recovery (forensic)

Cost recovery (forensic) accountants actually don't collect anything but a percentage of the money saved.

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 03/14/12 - 04:43 pm
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0
Wouldn't want those nosy

Wouldn't want those nosy taxpayers seeing where tax money is spent-they just wouldn't understand.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 07:00 am
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Here's what bothers me about

Here's what bothers me about this whole thing:

Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta, said when he introduced House Bill 1235 that he was concerned about the city’s finances and thought the audits would give the public more confidence in the government.

If he is so concerned, he might leave the legislature and run for city commissioner. City commissioners are the ones who control the city's finances. We elect state representatives to deal with state matters. What Murphy was doing with his audit bill was creating an unfunded mandate, putting a burden on city taxpayers. We don't need our legislators to do that.

Walter Jones
18
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Walter Jones 03/15/12 - 08:04 am
0
0
Of the 450 or so pieces of

Of the 450 or so pieces of local legislation introduced this session, most started with a resolution by the local government, but not all. And generally they are supported unanimously by the local legislators, but not all.

Small delegations tend to have rules requiring unanimous agreement. A simple majority usually rules in large delegations. There are plenty of local bills that pass without unanimous support in the delegation, and few are pulled off the local-consent calendar for a separate vote by the House or Senate.

While members of the minority party are unlikely to prevail in a separate vote by the full House or Senate, they sometimes do it. They may want a recorded vote to aid political challengers, perhaps.

Members of the majority party, while being confident of winning a separate vote, often decide not to call for one because they know it puts their colleagues in an uncomfortable position of getting drawn into local issues they neither care about or understand. And, of course, those colleagues don't want every other legislator involved in their own local matters, so there is a gentlemen's agreement to keep local politics between the members of the local delegation. That's why I reported that Rep. Barbara Sims' request for a separate vote was uncommon. In the 15 regular sessions I have covered, I typically see it happen a handful of times each year.

I hope this sheds more light on the subject of local legislation. Unfortunately, the limited space in the newspaper restricts how much explanation can be included on the workings of the General Assembly in a given news story.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 08:11 am
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0
Thank you for responding, Mr.

Thank you for responding, Mr. Jones. Your explanation was enlightening for me. Would you offer your own opinion for me? Would you characterize our east Georgia local delegation (Richmond County plus Burke County) as small or large?

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 08:51 am
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Hey, I'm just now seeing that

Hey, I'm just now seeing that the article was updated. I wish I had saved the original. From memory I see two things different:

1. I think the following sentence was added: He said the bill also included audits of departments and authorities with budgets above $500,000.

Wow! Augusta has lots of authorities. And I suspect several of our departments have budgets over $500,000, because our city's bloated salaries quickly reach that tab. We taxpayers would have been paying through the nose for all these audits. It's a CPA's dream.

2. And I am sorry they took out the informative thing near the end where Rep. Barbara Sims asked a question on the floor to show her displeasure with this bill. Sims is quite the southern lady (she would have been called a belle back in the old days) with charm, grace, wit and intelligence. I am glad she is my representative.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 10:33 am
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Just think of the departments

Just think of the departments and authorities of our dear government:

Departments

911
Administrator (What, me worry?)
Animal Services
Augusta Cares
Board of Elections
Bush Field
Clerk of Commission
Coroner
Court Systems
- - - Civil & Magistrate
- - - Probate
- - - State, Superior & Juvenile
- - - Jury Department
Daniel Field
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
Emergency Management
Equal Employment Opportunity
Extension Office
Finance
Fire Department
Fleet Management
GIS
Housing & Development
Human Resources
Information Technology
Law
Library
License & Inspection
Marshal
NRCS
Planning & Development
Procurement
Public Transit
RCCI
Recreation, Parks & Facilities
Risk Management
Sheriff
Soil Conservation
Solid Waste
Tax Assessor
Tax Commissioner
Traffic Engineering
Transportation Planning
Utilities

Authorities

Downtown Development
Economic Development
Housing
Land Bank
Ports

With each department with a budget over $500,000 and each authority being audited every four years, you can see that City Hall will be crawling with private CPAs doing audits continuously. The employees won't have time to do their jobs because they will be digging in the files for the auditors. Quincy Murphy's bill is lunacy.

Walter Jones
18
Points
Walter Jones 03/15/12 - 11:53 am
0
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Little Lamb, I would put the

Little Lamb, I would put the Augusta delegation on the large side. It's nowhere near as large as some counties in metro Atlanta, but it's comparable to those in Macon, Savannah and Columbus.

It is larger than just a pair of representatives and a senator, which is the norm for cities like Griffin, Dublin and Americus.

Little Lamb
49106
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Little Lamb 03/16/12 - 06:49 pm
0
0
Walter Jones wrote: The

Walter Jones wrote:

The chairman of the Augusta legislative delegation, Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, said he will ask the House on Monday to reconsider its action.

I am embarassed that a member of my local legislative delegation is wasting the precious time of the Georgia General Assembly with a meaningless request like this. Give it up, Wayne. Move on.

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