Report finds 'breakdown' in Lawrenceville's operations



LAWRENCEVILLE -- A report from an independent consulting firm found that disorganization within the city of Lawrenceville from 2006 to 2010 -- under the leadership of then-Mayor Rex Millsaps -- may have cost taxpayers dearly.

The 10-page report by Atlanta firm Moore Stephens Tiller LLC was initiated to look into the city's records and regulatory compliance, including investigations into Lawrenceville's general procedures, gas department, the construction of its new police department, equipment inventory and several other projects.

The report, which is available on the city's website, brought to light unapproved expenditures and a sense of disorganization within the city's internal workings.

Several council members did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

Perhaps most strikingly, the report noted "a breakdown in controls over gas department duties," noting "no accountability of the gas department head to the mayor and city council."

Moore Stephens Tiller found that gas department penalties totalling more than $2.5 million were not reported to the council by supervisor Terry Farmer until they "had escalated to a point that inflated the penalties." Farmer reportedly attempted to pay smaller penalties out of department budget to "cover up" the fines.

The report also detailed the city's repairs of private property along Collins-Industrial Way following flooding in 2009. The consulting firm found no evidence of there being a contract -- or a council vote -- for the project that cost the city approximately $184,000.

"It appears the city council was not fully informed of the project until after it was completed," the report stated.

It was also noted that the owners of that private property were not "properly billed" for the work.

Moore Stephens Tiller also examined three other city projects with expenditures that "appear to be greater than the approved amounts in the city council meeting minutes by approximately $149,000."

In yet another project, the consulting firm found that the Lawrenceville city council approved the initial cost of $137,000 to pave and improve curbs on Forest Hills Street -- it did not, however, vote on five change orders that upped the project's cost to more than $580,000.

In general, the report found that Lawrenceville "had no written controls over monitoring of city transactions, city assets, or city compliance," and kept no inventory of construction parts and equipment.