The commission approved the measure in a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Jason Nelms absent. The RFP was posted on the county’s website Wednesday. The deadline for proposals from firms is 4 p.m. Oct. 26.
County Manager Jerry Cooper said he drafted the RFP with assistance from District Attorney Garry Moss, a grand jury member who is a forensic auditor, commissioners and others. The timeline that the audit will cover will be from January 2006 through September 2012, he said.
Cooper said the county is expecting a detailed and comprehensive audit to be performed.
“Through the input that I’ve mentioned it’s very detailed as to records, interviews, various meetings and procedures that a forensic auditor would use,” he said at the agenda meeting.
Cooper said the five selected firms that the county has specifically chosen to mail RFPs to were selected for specific reasons.
Two firms were recommended by Moss based on previous work they’ve done for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, he said. He said the other three were identified in a general search by himself as top metro Atlanta firms.
The commissioners agreed that it would be unwise to state how much the county was willing to pay for an audit before bids were received.
But the county’s involvement in the search for an independent audit into the $18.2 million recycling deal that went belly up has been a point of contention among those who have criticized the commission’s involvement in the agreement and subsequent investigation.
Two grand juries have called upon the commission to conduct a full and complete forensic audit of the deal.
Canton Tea Party chairwoman Carolyn Cosby led the charge Tuesday against the county. She said the commission – whose members also served on the Resource Recovery Development Authority that issued the $18.2 million in revenue bonds to recycling company owner Jimmy Bobo – are not to be trusted in the matter.
Though tea party members had previously called for a forensic audit, Cosby said that an audit shouldn’t take priority in the investigation.
Instead, she suggested that commissioners, Cooper and Bobo be prosecuted if crimes had been committed.
She said she would send a letter Wednesday to Moss, asking that his office ask the GBI to investigate possible theft by taking because she said the county overpaid for the recycling site and that grading and paving work purchased was never completed.
She also alleged the RRDA committed malfeasance in office through secret decision-making regarding the deal.
“It’s past time for the district attorney’s office to immediately report the most obvious crimes,” she said. “If a forensic audit is needed to assist in the investigation, then such an audit would become obvious. The citizens are awaiting justice on this matter.”
She received applause from supporters in the audience at the conclusion of her comments.
Bill NcNiff of Nelson, who also spoke during public comment, agreed that the DA should conduct the audit.
However, Cooper said that Moss has already rejected that suggestion. He also said the county would rather not use a firm located in Cherokee County to conduct the audit.
“The DA actually recommended that we handle the process, as well as the grand jury who has made that recommendation,” said Cooper. “We’re just following the recommendation of the district attorney and grand jury.”
Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens reiterated Moss’ refusal to handle the audit. When an audience member in response shouted, “Does he work for you?” Ahrens responded that Moss does not answer to the commission.
In 2006, the county created the RRDA, composed of the five county commissioners. Bonds were used to relocate Bobo’s recycling company from its former location on Blalock Road near Holly Springs to a site on Highway 5 just south of Ball Ground.
Under a lease agreement, Bobo was to pay $100,000 a month in bond payments up to $18.2 million borrowed from the authority to purchase land and equipment for the operation, which the authority owns under the agreement.
After it was discovered that Bobo was not making regularly payments and that taxpayers now own the debt, a grand jury investigating the matter recommended in August that the county seek to recover the funds by conducting a full and complete forensic audit, which the commission agreed to do.
In September, a newly impaneled grand jury called for a second investigation of the agreement with Ball Ground Recycling, which is currently going through bankruptcy procedures.
Officials are hoping that an independent auditor can find missing financial records and other documents related to Bobo’s business operations to help recoup the debt.