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OSA Seal Technicalities
 
TECHNICALITIES

Technicalities is a monthly publication of Office of the State Auditor, Department of Technical Assistance. The purpose of this newsletter is to communicate information concerning inquiries to the Office of the State Auditor. The interpretations herein are those of the Department of Technical Assistance.

August 2006


Q: Are drafts of official minutes which have not yet been approved, notes taken by a clerk during official meetings for use during preparation of official minutes, and tape recordings made for the same purpose subject to disclosure pursuant to Section 25-61-1 et. seq. , the Mississippi Public Records Act?
A: Yes, Section 25-61-3(b) defines "public records" very broadly. Tape recordings and transcripts of public meetings made for the purpose of preparing minutes are public records. If a request is made to review minutes prior to their transcription, then the tapes, transcripts or rough drafts would necessarily have to be produced, and they would remain public records after the official minutes have been produced. Once the official minutes have been prepared the tapes, transcripts or rough drafts have served their purpose of aiding in preparation of those minutes, it is permissible to dispose of them. Any draft or notes which are produced pursuant to a request for public records should clearly be marked as a draft or otherwise be labeled "unofficial" or "unapproved". (Attorney General´s Opinion to Stovall, August 4, 2006)

Q: A governing authority received a public records request for all water and sewer customers who applied for water meters after a certain date and the deposits and tap fees paid by each of these customers. This information is not contained in existing records organized in the format requested. Is the governing authority required to compile the lists of requested information?
A: No, the definition of public records includes, but is not limited to, books, records, papers, accounts, letters, maps and any documentary materials "having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed or retained for use" by the public body. The Mississippi Public Records Act does not contemplate the creation of a new document or new record that does not already exist for the benefit of the requestor. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Baker, July 7, 2006)

Q: When does a tax collector (county or municipal) send renewal notices for local privilege license taxes?
A: Renewal notices should be sent before the first day of the month prior to expiration. (Section 27-17-465)

Q: Must a municipality or county publish notice before the first day of each fiscal year of its revenues, cost and contracts for solid waste services?
A: Yes. In addition, Section 17-17-347 requires the local government to develop a system to notify each user of solid waste services at the end of each fiscal year of the average or individual cost of such services. (Section 17-17-348)


Q: If a Special Community Disaster Loan (SCDL) applicant enters into a promissory note prior to the July 1, 2007 repealer, but does not draw down all available funds prior to July 1, 2007, does the repealer, once it becomes effective, prevent future draw downs by the applicant?
A: No, if a school district issues a promissory note on or before June 30, 2007 in accordance with the provisions of Section 37-57-108, any funds available as "draw downs" by the school district on and after July 1, 2007 would remain available despite the repealer provision contained in Senate Bill 2701 of the 2006 Regular Session. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Stringer dated June 23, 2006)

Q: Must school districts wait until the fiscal year end to calculate an actual shortfall and then draw down at the fiscal year end or may the school districts use the SCDL to provide funds to address estimated revenue shortfalls?
A: As noted in Section 37-57-108(2), the issuance of promissory notes is authorized when the amount of revenue collected or "estimated to be collected" is less than the amount provided for in the duly adopted budget. The issuance of a promissory note and the receipt of loan proceeds may be based on a good faith estimate of the revenue shortfall for the period required in the applicable federal rules. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Stringer dated June 23, 2006)

Q: May a school district estimate its shortfall, make a draw down, and if it determines that its draw down exceeds the actual shortfall as calculated at year end, either (1) escrow the excess loan proceeds for application to a future fiscal year shortfall or (2) repay the excess loan proceeds?
A: Unused loan proceeds may be escrowed to offset future borrowing or "draw downs" authorized under the SCDL program or may be used to repay a promissory note issued as part of the SCDL program. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Stringer dated June 23, 2006)

Q: Has Section 37-43-1(6) been amended to require local school boards to loan school books on the surplus inventory list to parents/guardians of children residing in the district?
A: Yes. (House Bill 308, 2006 Regular Session, effective July 1, 2006)

Q: Has legislation been enacted that amended various laws to require certain reporting by school districts to the State Board of Education for use in preparation of a statewide financial report of public school expenditures?
A: Yes. (House Bill 1119, 2006 Regular Session, effective July 1, 2006)

Q: Has legislation been enacted to revise various laws to grant home rule to school boards and allow procedural changes?
A: Yes. (House Bill 1121, 2006 Regular Session, effective July 1, 2006)


Q: What is the deadline for Counties to adopt their budgets for the next fiscal year?
A: The budget for the next fiscal year, Fiscal Year 2007, must be adopted no later than September 15, 2006. (Section 19-11-11)

Q: When must the board of supervisors set the tax levy to support the adopted budget for the next fiscal year?
A: Section 27-39-317 states "The board of supervisors of each county shall, at its regular meeting in September of each year, levy the county ad valorem taxes for the fiscal year, and shall, by order, fix the tax rate, or levy, for the county, for road districts, if any, and for the school districts, if any, and for any other taxing districts.". The levy should be adopted by September 15.

Q: What is the deadline for publishing the approved budget?
A: The deadline for publishing the budget is September 30. (Section 19-11-7)

Q: Who has authority to enter into contracts to house prisoners from municipal law enforcement agencies in the county jail?
A: Under Section 47-1-39, the board of supervisors of a county is granted sole authority to contract with municipalities for the housing of municipal prisoners and the sheriff is bound thereby. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Kemp, March 17, 2006)

Q: May a county contract with a telephone audit company to assist in recovering money that was overpaid to the telephone company?
A: Yes. A county may enter into a contingency contract for overcharges paid by the county for telephone services, as long as the county complies with Section 19-3-41(2) and rules and regulations established by the Mississippi Department of Audit. The contract must be structured so that the entire amount recovered by the telephone audit firm for telephone overcharges is remitted to the county, and the contingency fee based on the amount collected is then paid by the county to the audit firm. (Attorney General´s Opinion to Trapp, June 30, 2006)


Q: When must a municipality hold its budget hearing?
A: A budget hearing must be held at least one week before adopting the budget. (Section 21-35-5)

Q: When must a municipality adopt its budget and ad valorem tax levy?
A: The tax levy must be adopted by September 15. (Section 21-33-45 and 21-35-5)

Q: What must the municipal clerk do when an ad valorem tax levy is adopted by the governing authority?
A: 1. The clerk must immediately certify and send copies of the levy adoption resolution to the municipal tax collector, county tax collector, Miss. Tax Commission, and State Auditor´s Office. 2. Copies of the resolution must be made available to the public within two weeks. 3. The resolution must be published/ printed within ten days. (Section 21-33-47)

Q: When must a municipal audit be completed?
A: A municipality must contract for its annual audit to be completed within one year after the end of the fiscal year. (Section 21-35-31)

Q: What kind of audit contract may a municipality choose?
A: Section IV of the "Municipal Audit and Accounting Guide" (MAAG) explains the full scope audit requirements for municipalities and the limited scope option for municipalities with a population less than 3000.

Q: What must a municipality do with its audit report when it is finished?
A: Page IV-B2 of the MAAG explains publication options and that the mayor must sent two hard copies and one electronic copy to the state auditor.

Q: Must a municipality answer questions at the end of each fiscal year for purposes of the audit and file these questions and answers on its minutes?
A: Yes. (Page IV-B4 of the MAAG "Municipal Compliance Questionnaire")

Q: Where can a copy of the MAAG be found?
A: The MAAG is available on file in the municipal clerk´s office or at the state auditor´s website (www.osa.state.ms.us under

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