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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Auditor finds deficiencies in some parish grant programs

Auditor finds deficiencies in some parish grant programs

Although Lafourche Parish Government received an “unmodified opinion” in the audit of its 2014 finances, “deficiencies” continue to occur in administration of certain grant programs, said the auditor.

In a presentation of the highlights of the 2014 audit, Angelique Barker of Stagni and Company, hired to conduct the audit, said that one of the goals of the independent audit was to provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatement by checking various grant programs in the parish.

In giving an opinion on the parish’s compliance, Barker noted some “deficiencies” in parish administration’s control of some grant programs.

Within two of these programs - Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - overpayments and documentation issues which were noted in 2013 continued in 2014.

CSBG programs, according to state guidelines, provide core funding to reduce poverty, revitalize low-income communities and to empower low-income families to become self-sufficient.

Also, LIHEAP assists families with energy costs.

Federal guidelines require that administrators document all expenditures within these programs, send in quarterly signed reports to the Federal government, and keep signed copies of those reports on file. In two quarters tested by Stagni, no signed copies were on file.

Also, overpayments of rental and shelter assistance to individuals under CSBG amounted to $1026.

A similar discrepancy was found in the LIHEAP program where checklists used to determine the eligibility of an applicant were not followed completely.

LIHEAP overpayments amounted to $100.

Barker called the instances “correctable” and said that the recent hiring of an Executive Director of Community Action within the parish could eliminate the CSBG and LIHEAP issues.

In 2014, Lafourche received $170,576 in CSBG and $586,806 in LIHEAP grant money.

Finally, the auditor found that Lafourche was not following its own Transportation Act which requires that “the governing authority should adopt a priority road list and a three year plan to improve those roads even if the Parish Transportation Funds will be used strictly for maintenance.”

To correct this, Parish President Charlotte Randolph stated on Tuesday that the parish has developed a priority road list which would be presented later during the meeting. That list was adopted by resolution on Tuesday.
Stagni’s audit also stated that road resurfacing projects should take into account the value of old roads removed during resurfacing, and depreciated. Otherwise, said Stagni, infrastructure capital assets and accumulated depreciation “could be overstated”.

In a concluding statement regarding the audit, Barker said that although there were instances of noncompliance, “the Parish complied, in all material respects, with the types of compliance requirements that could have a direct and material effect on each of its major federal programs.”

The complete audit can be viewed on the Lafourche Parish Government website