The results of a six-month state audit into the county's engineering contracts are expected before the end of the month, but no criminal charges or fines are expected, officials said.

The State Auditor's Office announced this week that it had concluded a performance audit it began in April and will produce a preliminary report within a week.

That report will be presented to the county, which will have a chance to respond to specific charges before a final report is made public.

For the last four months, officials with the State Auditor's Office have been working closely with county officials to compile records and interview board members.

Sam Atkinson, Director of Performance at the State Auditor's Office, said the report had a "narrow focus" and only looks at specific contracts the county had with County Engineer Rudy Warnock and his firm Warnock and Associates.

Many have questioned contracts between Warnock and the county after fees paid to the county engineer increased dramatically since he was appointed in 2005.

Also in question are fees Warnock assessed the county like a $100 a day "vehicle usage charge" back in 2005 and 2006 and several subcontracts his firm negotiated with other firms.

Warnock and certain members of the board maintain they've done nothing wrong and feel they are being targeted for political reasons.

Without revealing any details of their findings, Atkinson said they found no cause to demand monies be repaid on the contracts.

"This is a performance audit," Atkinson said. "We look at the performance of a government entity and compare it to the best practices of similar counties."

Atkinson said that they then make suggestions on how the government entity can better manage its finances and how it can improve its actions ó suggestions the county can follow or simply disregard.

"In the best case scenerio everyone would be satisfied," Atkinson said. "Maybe not happy, but satisfied.

"It is up to the entity to concure or not concur to our findings," she continued. "Where they don't concure they will give a written explaination of why and that will be included in the final report."

She said the county will have about a week to respond to their preliminary findings then her office will take another week to produce a final report which will be posted on their web site and open to the public.

Warnock said he can't wait to see the results.

"I am looking forward to being vindicated," Warnock said. "We're excited about it."

Several officials have questioned Warnock's engineering contracts in recent years, including Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, who earlier this year released an extensive report on the county's engineering services which she commissioned privately.

It showed excessive fees and a lack of checks and balances in the county's dealings with Warnock.

Warnock was paid more than $10 million by the county from 2005 through 2009, including $3.1 million in 2008. By comparison Rankin County paid its county engineer $996,913 in 2008, Desoto County paid its engineer $648,308 and Lee County paid $359,625.

The report is expected to look at specific projects including Phase I of the Calhoun Station Parkway project in which Warnock charged the county $0.35 a mile for vehicle usage in 2005 and 2006, but also levied a $100 a day "vehicle usage charge" sometimes billing the county for as many as 25 days in a given month.

Over a nine month period he billed $19,400 in "vehicle usage charges" and $2,700 in mileage reimbursements.

Warnock's firm also charged the county $150,000 for environmental engineering fees for Calhoun Station Parkway Phase II and $176,800 for Calhoun Station Parkway Phase III, then subcontracted the work out to another firm.

The details of those subcontracts are not public record, which is where officials like Hawkins-Butler say the issues are.

The State Audior is not examining the subcontracts.

Warnock and a majority of the Board of Supervisors have long defended his contracts, saying they have done nothing wrong and in April welcomed the audit, saying they hoped it would put such allegations to rest.

A year ago they even released their own internal report detailing other counties and municipalities that showed Warnock charges an average of 14 percent on contracts and as much as $65 less per hour for service costs.

District 2 Supervisor Tim Johnson called all the allegations against Warnock a political "witch hunt" and has been one of the engineer's most ardent supporters.

Johnson and others on the board like District 4 Supervisor Karl Banks say the increase in engineering costs is in direct correlation to the amount of construction work being done in the county.