1. What is the deal with the DOJ funds? Separating Fact from Fiction.
Below is a copy of the latest auditor's letter regarding the infamous DOJ funds.
February 21, 2017 State Auditor's Letter to Trent Favre, Bay St. Louis City Attorney regarding DOJ funds. (Click here)
On March 8, 2017, WLOX reported: Bay St. Louis looking to move forward after DOJ investigation (Click here)
No matter what rumor you heard, or what anyone (even those elected) said, the bottom line is that all of the hullabaloo amounted to very little. The city council based all of their accusations on a "preliminary" audit report given by a former reviewer, Samantha Atkinson. As you can see from the letter dated February 21, 2017, none of the information Ms. Atkinson provided in that preliminary audit is valid. It is "moot". In fact, preliminary audits are only work done prior to examination of the details of accounts.
After all of the documentation and audits accumulated in this process, one must wonder if the city council understands the difference between a bank account (one from which you can write checks) and an accounting code (aka "account" which is a detailed accounting of money earmarked for a particular purpose). One auditor even told the council, "You don't have little buckets of money laying around".
In an attempt to filter out the misinformation and spin, we determined the facts are this:
1) The DOJ funds were being handled in the same fashion in which they had been handled in the nearly two decades since it was originally set up.
2) The DOJ funds were never stolen or missing as evidenced by two audits and review by the DOJ.
3) The DOJ "account" was never closed and put into another account until voted upon by the city council just weeks ago.
4) The city council authorized the city expenses that were paid with the money earmarked for the DOJ. The evidence shows process occurred many times over the life of the "account". However, until now, the city council always put the money back into the general fund.
5) After calling for investigations with the DOJ and the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, not one shred of evidence exists that anything illegal occurred.
6) After many reports to the media by councilmen, the DOJ did not require that the funds be returned. In fact, they presented refund as the last option, allowing the city to simply put the money in a separate bank account.
If the administration, i.e., mayor and/or city clerk, did anything illegal, then why were there not only no charges of any kind? Finally, why would certain council members put such a dramatic and negative spin on this?