The board approved using the Newnan-based firm McClendon & Associates for the audit at Tuesday night’s meeting. Commissioners approved a maximum cost of $75,000.
McClendon & Associates is one of four firms recommended by the grand jury and is one of two recommended by the District Attorney’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, according to County Manager Jerry Cooper.
The other firm recommended by the GBI did not submit a final proposal because of a conflict of interest, Cooper said.
Nine firms submitted proposals to the county for forensic audit services. Commission chairman Buzz Ahrens was the only member of the commission who saw the proposals before they were reviewed by the District Attorney’s office, the GBI and the grand jury.
“I think this is the right thing to do, and I think we picked the right firm to do it,” Ahrens said. “I hope the time and expenditure is worth it, and I think it will be.”
Commissioner Harry Johnston said audit’s findings will be made public, though the release of some material may need to be delayed if it is useful in the county’s lawsuit against Ball Ground Recycling owner Jimmy Bobo and his brother David Bobo.
“There needs to be, ultimately, a public disclosure of all the findings,” Johnston said.
The forensic audit will begin immediately, Cooper said. It will cover the time period from 2005 to present.
“You and I, and others in management, will be subject to this audit,” he said to the commissioners at the meeting.
A grand jury recommended in August that the county conduct a full and complete forensic audit as part of the process to recover money lost when Jimmy Bobo stopped making payments on the lease of the Ball Ground Recycling Center, owned by the county’s Resource Recovery Development Authority.
In November 2006, the county created the RRDA and issued $18.2 million in revenue bonds to relocate Jimmy Bobo’s Ball Ground Recycling from its former location on Blalock Road near Holly Springs to its site on Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.
Bobo was under a lease agreement with the authority to pay $100,000 a month over 30 years in bond payments up to the amount borrowed to purchase land and equipment for the operation, which the authority owns under the agreement. Bobo stopped making these payments in 2011.
Ball Ground Recycling filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May, and Bobo was forced to vacate the property.