MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Moss Point city leaders are asking the state auditor's office to expedite its investigation into fraud allegations within the utility department. They've also hired a private firm to monitor the department's transactions.
"In the past, we had no checks and balances there. No standard operating procedures there," said Moss Point City Clerk Stephanie Coleman.
Mayor Billy Broomfield said the deficit is at $3.4 million, and they've found a significant amount of that missing money is the result of residents getting their water illegally.
"We found through our own investigation that people were getting water through direct hookups," Moss Point Mayor Billy Broomfield said.
Direct hookups bypass the metering system.
"They will actually put that in the meter - in the meter hole, in place of the meter," said Moss Point Building Official Andrew Beamon.
Broomfield said the city plans to go after those residents cheating the system. Moss Point building official Andrew Beamon and his team will do that through inspections.
"In the event that we find someone has an illegal hookup, we'll determine exactly how much or how long that illegal hookup has been there," Beamon said.
Once identified, they'll turn off the services and take legal action.
"These people will be turned over to the courts. Their water, in order to retrieve it again, they will have to pay a tap fee, plus what they owe the city for the illegal usage," Broomfield said.
The city is also still investigating fraud against two former utility employees.
"I think there will probably be warrants issued," Broomfield said.
In the meantime, Broomfield said they're working to put new measures in place to fix the problem and make sure this doesn't happen again.
The mayor did not give an update Monday of the ongoing investigation into fraud allegations in the Moss Point Police Department.