- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

SORRENTO, La. (AP) - Sorrento is having trouble collecting from its utility customers and from drivers who receive tickets issued from a now largely idled police department.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1cEuv2L ) a new audit for the 2013 fiscal year says the town had not collected $19,400 in delinquent utility bills and $53,000 in fines from tickets the department issued.

The findings are part of at least a multiyear trend that has been the subject of repeated findings by town auditors at least since fiscal 2010.

In all, between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2013, the police department was not able to collect a combined $529,000 in ticket fines and court fees and the town had a combined $47,800 in delinquent sewer and garbage bills, audits say.

First-term Mayor Mike Lambert and four of five new council members took office the day after that fiscal year ended.

Lambert said Wednesday that he is only now beginning to fully grasp the problems with the town’s utility and police finances.

“We were never told anything about the outgoing administration until we took office, and we’ve been hit from one crisis to other,” he said.

For months, the Police Department has been without car or liability insurance.

Then, last month, elected four-term Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. stepped down and pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent about inappropriate sexual contact with an intoxicated woman the chief had picked up after a 911 call Nov. 1.

Lambert said he hopes the next chief, whether appointed or elected, will take up the uncollected fines and court costs and said he plans to meet with the town attorney and the auditors about how to improve collection on delinquent utility bills.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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