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Sunday, August 25, 2019



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Lafourche audit shows holes in accounting

Lafourche audit shows holes in accounting

Last year, contracted auditors told the Lafourche Parish Council the parish was spending too much. Tuesday night, auditors presented a new report that shows some material weaknesses and deficiencies in the parish’s accounting.

The parish’s fund balance, however, appears to have recovered. The latest audit shows the combined fund balances ended the year with about $1.6 million more than in 2017.

The 2018 audit was conducted by Postlethwaite & Netterville, a new contractor with the parish.

Tommy Naquin, a CPA with the company, presented the report, reviewing the major findings.

The auditors noted several weaknesses where the parish lacked proper accounting and, in some cases, is violating state law.

Some of the findings are:

• Actual expenses totaled more than the amended budget by more than the legally allowed 5 percent in 17 different funds, including the parish general fund, a violation of state law.

• A number of properties were sold at a surplus property auction without authorization from the Parish Council, a violation of state and parish laws.

• The parish had problems with how it recorded and reported some bond issues.

• The parish was miscalculating accounts receivable, or the amount of money it is owed, and overstated the receivable balance by about $743,000.

• The parish was miscalculating depreciation values of capital assets and had not taken any recent inventory.

The auditors also noted several problems under hazard mitigation grants, including a lack of documentation for some expenses and reimbursements, paying project expenses after the grant period ended and paying expenses without reimbursement requests.

In reference to the surplus property sale, Naquin said, “There needs to be emphasis to make sure that what’s been sold was approved.”

The parish sold 106 items at auction Oct. 7, 2017. According to the 2018 audit, some of those were not approved for sale by the council but were added to the list of items for sale after the council approved the auction list.

The council passed a resolution just days after the auction, asking the Lafourche Parish District Attorney and Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter. No charges or allegations have been made publicly since that resolution was passed.

The report also notes that the parish has an outstanding debt of about $1.6 million owed to the Louisiana Department of Health for the operation of the parish health unit.

Over 10 years ago, the parish agreed to pay the health department $16,500 per month to provide staffing for the facility. The audit report says the parish has not paid the monthly fee since 2010.

In their response, the parish said they will contact the health department to try to negotiate a settlement and “establish terms in writing.”

The full audit report is online at lafourchegov.org, under the finance department page.

The parish administration did not make any comments about the audit.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.