After an audit committee meeting and a discussion in the regular council meeting Tuesday night, Conway City Council members decided to get more specific information about how much a private audit would cost in comparison to the free legislative audit.

Timing is the biggest concern with staying with the free legislative audit, but the last time the city used a private auditor it cost about $100,000.

At this time, the council does not have specific figures of how much a private audit would cost. The aldermen moved to put out a request for qualifications to get specific information so they can assess the cost versus the reward of not using the legislative audit.

The RFQs would let the city rank the top three private firms based on their qualifications. Then, negotiations with the top contender would proceed to figure out a price. If the price is not satisfactory to the council, they could then move to the next in line.

"Right now we're grasping at numbers," said Councilman David Grimes, who also serves as chairman of the audit committee. "We know what it used to cost and we think we know what it might cost in the future, but we just don't know. This would give us the chance to get a number from an independent firm just so we have something to compare to."

The city's chief financial office Tyler Winningham said the city is tentatively on the schedule to get a legislative audit this fall for the 2012 fiscal year, but they know that the city might be looking elsewhere for this service.

"When we tell them this, that we're going out for RFQ, we very well may lose our spot in line," he said. "But if we say, 'We don't like the responses we got; we want to stick with you guys,' they'll just schedule us for a later date." 

No matter their decision, Winningham said the city would most likely stay with that audit option for several years.

"With the differences between the two as far as how they report, we need to pick one and stick with it," he said.

The motion to send out RFQs passed six to one with Councilman Mark Ledbetter voting against, stating he felt the city should stick with the legislative audit.