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Time is up for Jeanerette: State appoints administrator to take - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Time is up for Jeanerette: State appoints administrator to take over

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Mayor Aprill Foulcard appearing before the Fiscal Review Committee Mayor Aprill Foulcard appearing before the Fiscal Review Committee

The finances of the City of Jeanerette are in such disarray that a state-appointed administrator was appointed today to take over city operations.

The Legislative Auditor's Fiscal Review Committee voted unanimously to appoint an administrator to take over city operations - after city officials were unable to produce financial records for auditors for three years in a row. 

The discrepancies found in the city's utility system, as well as the lack of records, are "disturbing," Wilbur Stiles III, a deputy attorney general who serves on the committee, told Mayor Aprill Foulcard. 

 "Lay that over the fact that we haven't had bank statements and we can't audit the books of the city for three years, it's extraordinarily disturbing, Ms. Foulard" Stiles said to the mayor. "It's not this man's job to do it, it's not the man who came before him, it was your job to do it, quite frankly."

The committee formally asked the Attorney General's Office to file the proper court documents to appoint the administrator. 

Back in March 2017, we reported that the city hasn't submitted an audit for two years in a row, because auditors couldn't make sense of the city's records. At that time, we reported that the Legislative Auditor said a state takeover would be triggered if that happened for a third year in a row. Last month, the audit was due, and when we called the auditor's office we were told it hadn't been submitted - and that they hadn't heard from Jeanerette at all.

To read our March 2017 story, click here

The Legislative Auditor's office has been trying to help Jeanerette get its finances straight since 2013 - which is the year Foulcard took over the mayor's office. Staff have given the Mayor advice on what to do, and even sent people to train her employees. The city also hired a CPA firm to try to reconstruct some of the financial records that don't exist. Despite all that, still no one can say what the city's fiscal state is. 

Municipalities and other governmental entities in Louisiana submit annual audits, performed by privately-contracted CPAs, each year to the auditor's office. Jeanerette's most recent audit was for the fiscal year that ended in June 2014. That one was submitted a year later than normal, in 2016.

The auditors hired for 2015 and 2016 could not complete the audits, because the records weren't sufficient, we were told in March 2017. During a meeting with the auditor staff, officials said they felt Foulcard's staff was "incapable or unwilling" to do the work required to keep books properly. One auditor referred to the city's records as "a complete mess."

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