- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NEW ROADS, La. (AP) - An audit finds the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury failing to make proper budget amendments in several of its funds and for incurring a deficit of more than $900,000 in the fund it uses to help operate the parish prison.

The audit report, released Monday, also highlighted at least two instances of improper oversight of employees who may have violated state law: In one case a utility worker used a parish-issued fuel card to make $23 worth of personal purchases and an undetermined amount of gasoline; and the report also dinged Recreation Department employees for illegally taking parish equipment home for personal use.

Jury President Melanie Bueche tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1GenPXP) the $906,722 shortfall is more of a bookkeeping issue than an ongoing debt for the parish.

“All the bills are paid,” she said. “Some people have a misunderstanding, thinking the Police Jury owes that money.”

According to the audit, the jury used a portion of the revenue generated from a 1-cent sales tax in its general fund to balance its prison fund.

“We have to do something to remedy it, (but) to ask the people to pay for a tax to imprison people is just not something people will run to the polls and vote for,” Bueche said. “Running the prison is a very overwhelming cost to the parish. It’s something every parish is dealing with.”

The audit notes that the parish in 2014 exceeded its general fund budget by 11.4 percent, its drainage fund by 29.6 percent, and its road and bridge fund by 6.5 percent. By state law, governing bodies need to amend budgets that exceed 5 percent of projections.

Auditors also advised the parish to update its policies and procedures after discovering employees in the Recreation Department were illegally checking out parish equipment to take home for personal use.

Bueche said she believes the recreation employees got into the habit of borrowing parish equipment after the Police Jury OK’d it during Hurricane Katrina.

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


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