Cliff Williams / The Outlook Romy Stamps interviewed with the Alexander City City Council Jan. 28 after applying for finance director. Stamps was appointed as Alexander City's finance by the council Feb. 1. Stamps is currently the finance director for the City of Talladega and currently lives in Alexander City.

Alexander City leaders hope much needed financial audits will resume soon.

Current City of Talladega finance director Romy Stamps was appointed to the same position in Alexander City at its Feb. 1 meeting. Alexander City City Council president Buffy Colvin said at Monday’s council meeting Stamps will start next month.

“She will be starting March 8,” Colvin said. “Hopefully we will be moving in the right direction soon.”

Financial audits are still two years behind. Alexander City has been without a finance director for more than 10 weeks, leaving only two people to keep up with day-to-day operations of the city. Alexander City Mayor Woody Baird said Friday every day without a finance director is putting the city further behind on the audits.

“We are putting out brush fires,” Baird said. “We are trying to do year end stuff. We have two people down there and they are working their butts off trying to get this done. If we had a third person down there then maybe we’d be able to push the numbers out.”

Baird said he has heard from auditors at Carr, Riggs & Ingram about the lack of progress on the fiscal year 2019 audit due to a lack of having a finance director.

“The accounting firm was like, ‘You have got to get on it. You are falling behind,’” Baird said. “Right now I know what it has taken us to get the audits done in the past; we will not have our audits done by the fiscal year change over which means we are going to be at least two behind when we roll into fiscal year 2022.”

The audits are needed to allow the city to go to the bond market to secure funds for needed infrastructure improvements. Currently, the City of Talladega has not posted the position of finance director that Stamps is leaving, according to its website.

Just when Baird didn’t want to hear the city had more obligations, it was discovered Friday the city had an unknown $200,000 to pay out in October. At Monday’s council meeting Baird said he had discovered more about the debt.

“It was an agreement with (Lake Martin Area Economic Development Authority),” Baird said. “The city was purchasing 17 acres in the Russell campus for $374,000 and Mayor Nabors agreed to pay $200,000 to the EDA this October.”

Baird said LMAEDA agreed to extend the terms of the agreement, easing the city’s immediate cash flow crisis.

To make matters worse, the council learned of the cost of a Jan. 12 transformer fire at a substation on U.S. Highway 280. Costs could run as high as $100,000 but the repairs are needed. Alexander City Light Department superintendent Ricky Waller said the substation supplies power to approximately two-thirds of Alexander City including Russell Medical and the Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment facility. Waller said the substation had two transformers prior to the fire and currently only has one handling the entire load.

The fire destroyed bushings in the transformer and city employees were able to locate replacements at Alabama Power Company at a cost of $33,200. The repair requires speciality crews to do the work. Liberty Power will perform the work and hopes to start by Feb. 22.

Waller said if the current transformer goes out portions of the city could be without power for days.

It appears insurance will help cover most of the costs of the repair.

“We are hoping (the city’s portion) is going to be a lot less,” city clerk Amanda Thomas said. “We are hoping insurance will cover it.”

If insurance covers the cost, the city will be responsible for a $2,500 deductible.

To save some money the council approved a service level agreement and software subscription with IT Pipes. The agreement locks in the same price for three years when it has been common for a 5% cost increase per year.

In other action the council:

• Approved a retail beer and table wine license for Lakeside Bay Pines

• Approved minutes of the Feb. 1 meeting

The next meeting of the Alexander City City Council is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 1.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

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