ABI investigating Florala accounting

Published 12:03 am Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation was brought in Friday to investigate past accounting practices at the Florala Utilities Board.

Earlier this week, the board authorized an independent audit after staff found “a few discrepancies” following the termination of its longtime manager, Lynn Hughes; however, preliminary findings have expanded the scope of the investigation, Board Chairman Marvin Williford said Friday.

“I can say that the investigation remains ongoing, and after what we found, we contacted (Florala Police Chief) Sonny (Bedsole), who, in turn, contacted ABI,” Williford said. “An agent was in Florala (Friday), and he looked at what the locals found and thinks it’s enough to move forward with the investigation further.”

Williford confirmed that financial information and record keeping and bookkeeping practices were at the heart of the investigation.

Bedsole said, “We felt that because it dealt with municipal funds and public utilities, plus considering the tension between Mrs. Hughes and the utility board, an outside agency – like ABI – could provide a fair and impartial investigation.”

Previously, board members agreed to wait until the results of the audit were completed before approving a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

“And now, we’re one step closer to getting things back on track,” Williford said.