Audit of Grand Coteau, Louisiana Shows Big Issues with How Things are Done
GRAND COTEAU, La. (KPEL News) - Officials with the Legislative Auditor's Office released the findings of their audit of the town of Grand Coteau. Several of the issues cited in this year's audit were also cited as problems in the 2021 audit.
While there were nine items cited last year, that again were cited in this year's audit, obviously, nothing has been done to correct these issues. But, a major part of that issue may be that there are not enough funds to hire more staff.
We did try to contact city hall multiple times, but as of this time, we have not been able to make communication. In fact, we repeatedly dialed the line only to hear a fast busy signal.
Multiple duties apparently fall to one person within City Hall who handles all of the accounting and financial duties. The Legislative Auditor's Office has suggested that at least one other person should be hired to help with the duties of this department, but it has been indicated that there is not enough money in the budget for another position.
It's a matter of "segregation of duties" between the financial side, and the accounting side.
Auditors also showed that the Grand Coteau's Gas, Water, and Sewer funds were operating at a loss for 2022. They did make a recommendation to fight this issue, but it's likely not going to be a very popular idea. They say officials need to consider raising rates or cutting expenses.
One of the concerns that the audit brought up in their report was the fact that there was no documentation that raises "for the Board of Alderman or fix the compensation of the mayor, the board, the police chief, the clerk, and other municipal officers". This isn't just a matter of paperwork. They are required by an ordinance to provide this information.
Some of the other findings are that personnel files were not maintained and neither was the leave time of employees.
Some of the findings of the audit when it came to the utility system are that the town does not have complete records for customer deposits for meters, and there apparently is not a reconciliation of those funds on a monthly basis.
In regards to utilities, the town also was not following its own policy of delinquent accounts which calls for services to be cut off if the bills are not paid.
One of the findings that auditors from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office found is that several invoices were not paid by the time they were due. Because they were delinquent in paying the town's bills, several late fees were incurred by the town.
The town of Grand Coteau did not have minutes for all of the meetings that took place. In several cases regarding the publishing of the minutes, the auditors noted there were multiple times the minutes were not published in a timely manner.
The audit Kolder, Slaven & Company LLC conducted the audit.