City of Edison attorney addresses financial struggles, lack of audits

Edison's last audit was in 2018. Georgia law requires an audit every year.
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 11:26 AM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - “They’re in a serious crisis, really.”

City of Edison Attorney Tommy Coleman says the city of Edison is more than $400,000 in debt, and they haven’t had an audit in five years.

The new fiscal year started July 1, and still no budget.

“We have to deal with where we are right now, which is in a very bad financial spot,” said Coleman.

Here’s what WALB asked city officials for:

  • Any financial record keeping from the past five years, including:
    • City budgets from the last five years and federal and state grants received in the last five years

Here’s what we got:

  • Copies of five grants paid to the city, totaling more than $600,000
  • Budgets only for 2019 through 2022
  • And information regarding a single Community Development Block Grant

These documents are not enough to answer the question: where have taxpayer dollars and the grant funding gone, if not to the city’s bills?

“Our needs right now are very immediate,” said Coleman. “We know where some of the bills are, we need to get those paid off. I think after that, it will begin to moderate, and they will be able to manage it well.”

Coleman says from what he can tell, the money wasn’t spent illegally — but was mismanaged.

One city department impacted by the financial troubles has been the police department. Coleman says they are now down to two employees.

“That seems to be an ongoing discussion of how to make payroll each Thursday, and how to pay for those essential services that citizens of cities expect to have,” said Coleman.

Coleman added that moving forward, there will be some tough decisions to make.

“It happens. It’s not the end of the world. It’s very bad, but it can be managed with patience and cooperation. But it’s going to be hard on people. Both the citizens and the council to do this and get it behind them,” he said.

“I am hopeful. Always hopeful,” Coleman said.