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Jeanerette audit: unpaid utility bills and property taxes, defaults on grants

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Posted at 1:06 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 14:06:09-05

For the first time in several years, the City of Jeanerette has an audit - kind of.

It's not a complete one, because the city's financial records were in such disarray for so many years that they haven't been able to conduct a proper audit for several years. That led to the appointment of a fiscal administrator, who has now been running the city's business since March 2018.

The financial report issued by the city's auditors for the fiscal year ending June 2019 identified several problems that may account for the city's continued financial instability.

First, the city has a large amount of "very past due" utility bills. That echoes findings by the Legislative Auditor back in 2018, when it was noted that the city hadn't been properly managing customer accounts. The current report found that, if the past-due bills were collected, the money would pay the operating expenses of the utility fund.

Secondly, the city hasn't collected more than $275,000 in delinquent property taxes. This was a "failure of the past administration of the City" to follow state law.

Thirdly, the city has failed to establish and maintain reserve accounts required by the loan it got from the USDA.

According to the audit, the fiscal administrator is implementing policies and procedures to address all of these issues; the auditors are recommending that these efforts continue and that the new policies be followed.

The audit also addresses progressing being made on other problems cited in past reports and investigations. These, also, are being addressed by the fiscal administrator.

Here's the audit if you'd like to read it for yourself; the findings start on page 90.