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City of Hughson signs contract with new auditors
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After years of having the same Certified Public Accountant firm to audit the City’s finances, Hughson decided on a new CPA firm for the next three years at their Monday meeting.

And picking a new CPA firm to conduct the City’s auditing has been a hot topic at past council meetings.

There have been some discussions about whether to keep Hughson’s auditing firm that the city has had for the past five years — three years as Moreland & Associates, which was bought out by Macias, Gini and O’Connell two years ago.

Hughson’s Finance Director Debbie Paul was not in favor of their return but the council was.

Paul said they were very difficult to work with and caused more work for her staff. At previous meetings, council members praised the firm for their analysis of city finances.

“…they really looked at our finances and we can only benefit from that,” Councilmember Matt Beekman said.

A review panel researched and interviewed CPA firms of interest and a new audit firm — Moss, Levy & Hartzheim — was selected.

The City of Hughson’s finance department assembled the panel of six people from Finance Directors from the City of Oakdale and Riverbank, the Stanislaus Council of Governments and the City of Hughson Senior Accounting Technician and the Accounting Technician II.

Hughson sent out 26 requests for proposals and received six responses. The panel picked out the top three based off the firms experience in similar audits, the experience of their senior-in-charge, their peer reviews, and their ability to begin and finish the audit according to the time table Hughson created.

The top three firms also went under oral interviews and reference checks. It took about three weeks to pick Moss, Levy & Hartzheim, who will charge $34,300 per year for three years with the same costs all three years.

The City budgeted for $50,000 for the audits this year with Macias, Gini and O’Connell costing the city about $59,000 last year, Paul said. The highest bid this year was $71,000 and the lowest bid came in at $18,550.

In other City news, the City has decided to switch park projects and redesign Fontana Park instead of purchasing Lebright Fields like they originally had in mind.

Staff originally wanted to purchase Lebright Fields from the Hughson Unified School District with grant money the City of Hughson was awarded on July 1, 2003. The grant money is in the amount of $220,000 from the 2002 Resources Bond Act Per Capita Grant.

The purchase of Lebright Fields is no longer possible so the council decided in April to use the grant money to develop Fontana Park.

Due to fiscal reasons and the downturn of the housing market, Fontana Park can’t be fully developed to its original design, but the City will develop it similar to the original design within their budget.

The park is expected to get covered picnic areas, barbeque pits, a children’s play structure assembled like a web, horseshoe pits, landscaping, trees, addition of a sidewalk along the south side and benches.

At Monday’s meeting the council approved funding $5,950 for the redesign of the project and task order along with printing of the bid documents to put the project out to bid.

The City must use the grant money by March 31, 2011, said Linda Kuipers, City of Hughson redevelopment and housing program analyst.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.