New Columbus CFO embraces challenge of fixing city’s financial problems

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Monday was Jim Brigham’s first day on the job as Chief Financial Officer for the City of Columbus.

He’s already hitting the ground running.

“We’re looking at catching up on some of the accounting that’s behind, some of the account reconciliations, making sure that our payables and receivables are up-to-date, just getting things organized,” Brigham says.

Brigham comes to the Friendly City from Jacksonville State University, where he was the CFO and Senior Vice President of Administration. He also boasts years of experience in accounting.

“I was looking for a challenge, and I didn’t want an opportunity where I was just going to go babysit someone,” he says.

Mayor Keith Gaskin says Brigham is well-aware of the challenge he is facing.

“He knows about the discrepancy we had in the budget of $1.5 million this past year,” the mayor says. “He’s also aware that there have been two embezzlements in the city, not just in the prior administration but even the one prior to the last one.”

Brigham says his top priorities are to wrap up the 2020 audit and get started on the audit for 2021.

“Hopefully we’re very close to having the 2020 completed,” he says. “The good thing about that audit…is that it’s going to give me a great laundry list of tasks that need to be addressed and done.”

For the 2021 audit, Brigham wants to make sure his office provides more support to the public accounting firm by collecting and preparing all the information they need to look over.

“Bank reconciliations were behind, account reconciliations, things that we should have, as a city, been able to turn over to our auditors and have them check it,” Brigham says. “That was not in very good shape for the 2020 audit.”

After that, it’s straight to work on the 2022 audit and the 2023 budget.

“We just want to make sure that when our citizens and the city see numbers and reports that they’re real and that they’re accurate, and they can trust those numbers,” Brigham says.

Brigham says he also knows how much of a priority it is to increase pay for city employees.

He says his goal is to first get the budget right and then, as long as the funds are there, find a way to give city workers their raise.

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