VINEMONT — After accusations in recent months about money missing from the town’s accounts, the South Vinemont Town Council heard from CPA Larry Cooke about previous years’ audits during the work session before Tuesday evening’s meeting.
During the council’s April meeting, Councilwoman Sonya Copeland presented a document with a list of complaints about the council that dated back to 2017, such as discussions of new amenities that were never built or talks about road pavings that were not accomplished.
In that document, Copeland also claimed that there was $169,125.52 in unaccounted money in the monthly bank reconciliations that Town Clerk Kayecea Sasser prepares each month for the council. Copeland did not share any details about how she reached that figure.
To respond to the accusation of missing money, Cooke spoke to the council about the town’s 2019 and 2020 audits, and said there have been no findings of missing funds in any of the audits performed by his firm.
He said there were no discrepancies found in the town’s accounting, and the only issues found pertained to a certain revenue source that was being included as part of the town’s general fund, but that would not have anything to do with the claim of missing money.
“It’s not a major thing,” he said.
The amount of money that is supposed to be missing from the town’s financial reports could not have gone missing without his firm catching it, and if that sum of money was missing, the town would be struggling to pay its bills each month, Cooke said.
“I would say that if anybody had stole that much, the town would be bankrupt,” he said. “And it’s not. There’s no way, absolutely no way.”
Mayor Reggie Dodson said he was tired of hearing the accusations about the missing money and claims that he had stolen it, and told Copeland that if she could show how she is finding the alleged missing money, he would listen to her.
Copeland said she was just asking questions about the town’s finances and could not get answers.
“I’m new, I’m trying to learn,” she said. “I’ve asked a couple questions, and dadgum if y’all don’t come at me like I’m the worst person ever.”
Cooke said he has never found any issue with the town’s bank reconciliations, and after Dodson asked if the state performed its own audit, Cooke said that the reports prepared by his firm are available to the state auditor’s office.
He said if there were any issues ever found with the town’s finances, they would be reported to the state for their investigators to get involved, but that has never been necessary, Cooke said.
“We’ve never had a problem with one of your audits here, period,” he said.
In other business, the council approved a Community Movie Night for June 19 at 8:15 p.m., and plans to show Toy Story 4 to town residents and any other residents of north Cullman County who want to attend.
Dodson said an exact location for the movie has not yet been set, but it will likely be somewhere near the town’s community center.
He said the cost for renting the equipment for the movie night is around $1,500, but the town can also look into purchasing its own equipment in the future if there is a big turnout to the first movie.
The council also approved a $300 donation to the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Rodeo for a banner to be hung up at the Special Needs Rodeo and a quarter-page advertisement in the rodeo’s program.