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Wilmer warned to meet audit deadline

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Staff Writer

WILMER - Like the hamster spinning his perpetual wheel and getting nowhere fast, the City of Wilmer continues chasing audit deadlines to no avail.

Bill Matthews of the Texas Water Development Board - Audit Section made another of his frequent trips to a Wilmer City Council meeting Thursday night, Jan. 17 at the community center, strongly urging the council to meet a Feb. 15 deadline for turning in the city's audit for fiscal year 2001.

It was first thought the state's water department representative had made more of a water haul than usual when Mayor Eugene Lowe canceled the meeting due to a lack of quorum.

Those attending the regularly scheduled session began to leave.

'The [lack of] audit is because of poor, incompetent city personnel,' Matthews told The Ellis County Press. '[City employees] Crystol [Birdwell] and her daughter [Bobbie Martinez] just aren't trained [for auditing].

'That black city administrator was a criminal. He came out of a Louisiana gambling . . . ' Matthews was referring to David Ferguson, who served as city administrator for Wilmer in 1999 and 2000. Ferguson's position with the City of Wilmer was terminated.

'The last I heard, he [Ferguson] had been kicked out of Oklahoma,' Matthews said. 'Usually, when a city gets behind, there's pilfering.'

Council member Tiny Lange drove her vehicle into the parking lot and the city council meeting was called to order.

With Birdwell, the city secretary, not present for the meeting, Lange told Lowe to just 'push play' on the audio tape recorder used to record their meetings.

Mayor Pro-Tem Billy Wickliffe and council member Don Hudson also weren't present for the recent session.

'I'm not requesting your 2000 audit [as stated on the agenda],' Matthews told the council. 'I'm requesting your 2001 audit. Two-thousand is out of my hands.'

Matthews said he had turned over the matter of Wilmer's 2000 audit to the state's attorney general after the city was delinquent on its deadline for turning in the information. Deadline for the 2001 audit is Feb. 15, 2002. Matthews said the problem was probably not the auditor. He said what they could have was a lack of communication.

He advised council members to train their personnel. 'Historically, you haven't had any problems. You've showed up positive in your financials through 1999. 'Be careful. I've put three people in jail already [in another city or cities].'

'Mr. Matthews said auditors aren't thinking the same way I'm thinking,' Lowe said.'My understanding is an auditor came in and caught us up. The auditor has been sending someone up here.'

'This is getting too serious assuming something is being done,' council member Jesse Petton said.

Lowe said he was going to speak again with auditors.

'You better chew on them like a dog bone,' Petton said.

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