VERNON - Vernon City Council learned Monday evening, the state would withhold tens of thousands of dollars due to audit violations.

Vernon City Clerk Tracy Walker notified council members at the workshop that the city has been fined $22,000 over the four months for failure to submit an audit. She said the firm - Grimsley Caven & Co., out of Marianna - has all of the city's information, but "just can't get it done."

The initial deadline was June 30 last year. The city also missed the June 30 deadline this year. The firm has all of the city's financial information to conduct the audit.

In response, Walker contacted the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee for the state, which also unsuccessfully attempted to make contact with the firm.

However, the state will still withhold funds until the audit is submitted. January is the next deadline.

When someone suggested the city sue the firm, council members immediately responded that it was imperative to continue to pressure the firm to complete the audit and, possibly, revisit the sue for fees charged the city by the state later on.

"The city attorney advised not to do that right now," said council chairman Gary Owens said. "We need to get our audit done."

"They'll do it, they don't have a choice," Owens added. "But, then again, Tracy could you contact the state several times."

Walker said she is not optimistic the firm will meet the next deadline. The money the city expected from the state had been budgeted for FY 17-18, officials said.

"That money we cannot get back," Walker said. "It's just gone."