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Sexton questions city’s finances

Selma Councilman Glenn Sexton has questions about the city’s sales tax collections. City Treasurer Cynthia Mitchell, though, has questions about where Sexton’s numbers came from.

Sexton presented financial information to the council at its Jan. 26 meeting and requested an audit. He referenced several pages of financial documentation gained from Selma’s finance office and Alatax, a business that began collecting the city’s sales tax in October.

According to the information, some of which is handwritten, discrepancies exist between financial information the state provided Selma and information Alatax received from the state.

For example, Sexton states that in October 2001 Selma received $791,708.83 in sales tax. Sexton’s numbers also state that the State of Alabama sales tax report given to Alatax lists Selma as only receiving $508,374.00 for the same month.

Council President George Evans said he wasn’t sure the city needed an audit. &uot;There are too many unknowns in here,&uot; Evans said. &uot;On the surface it looks bad, but is it that bad?&uot;

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell then motioned for Mitchell to meet with Alatax representatives. The motion passed.

On Tuesday, Mitchell said Selmians had no cause for concern.

Mitchell said that Sexton’s information couldn’t be verified. She noted that the Alatax documentation lists information for fiscal years 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. Alatax didn’t begin collecting the city’s sales tax until October 2003.

According to Mitchell, when the city used the state for sales tax collection, it received monthly reports stating when it received monies and when they should have been received.

Alatax only provides monthly reports stating when monies are received.

Mitchell said that she’s contacted Alatax and expects updated reports in the near future.

Businesses must pay sales tax each month, but sometimes they fall weeks behind.

Monies expected for June might not be received until August. It doesn’t really matter which month monies are received, though, except around the beginning and end of each fiscal year.

Both Mitchell and the city’s auditors, Borland Benefield, ensure the monies are documented in the proper fiscal year come budget time. &uot;The State of Alabama told me that any time we need numbers, just pick up the phone and call,&uot; Mitchell said. &uot;You can get some information, and you can put it in that spreadsheet any way they want to.&uot;