- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

DELCAMBRE, La. (AP) - A Delcambre employee allegedly misappropriated $62,000 in property tax and utility collections, according to an audit released Monday.

The Advertiser reports (http://bit.ly/1rWmUn6 ) an auditor uncovered the alleged theft and reported it to Mayor Carol Broussard in September.

“I said, ‘Go ahead and find what you need to find,’” he said.

Broussard is criticized in the audit for not reporting the alleged misappropriation to the board of aldermen and Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office for a few months.

Broussard did not report the alleged problems to the board until November, after Kolder, Champagne, Slaven and Company - certified public accountants hired to conduct the audit - began an investigation and a person of interest was identified. The Legislative Auditor was advised in January.

“We don’t really know what happened,” Broussard said.

The matter remains under investigation and has been turned over to the district attorney’s office, Broussard said. The employee, whose name has not been released, has resigned.

Meanwhile, the town also was criticized in the audit for a $214,852 operating loss in its utility fund. Broussard blamed the loss in part on a mild winter in 2012-13.

“We deal with gas here. If you don’t burn gas, we don’t make money,” he said.

Part of the problem is that the town charges its 840 customers a flat $15 rate for natural gas because it doesn’t have meters, Broussard said. It would cost about $1 million to install the meters.

The town will probably obtain a loan from the state to pay for the meters and increase rates to pay back the loan, he said.

“I think we’re going to have to raise prices eventually and bite the bullet,” Broussard said.

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Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com