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Audit finds issues in St. Martinville books

St. Martinville City Hall
Posted at 9:03 AM, May 09, 2022

Auditors have again found problems in the way St. Martinville handles its books.

According to a report from the state Legislative Auditor, this year's audit report had 14 findings, all of which were repeats from previous years. The report indicates that none of the "internal control" findings from last year's audit were corrected. Several findings from last year's audit, which dealt with federal funding, had been corrected.

For this year's audit, the independent auditor found that the City did not:

  • Have adequate segregation of duties for its accounting operations
  • Perform monthly reconciliations of the general ledger accounts
  • Have procedures in place to make sure penalties and late fees were added to delinquent customer utility accounts
  • Have adequate controls for the collection of customer utility deposits
  • Have adequate controls over its inventory
  • Have accurate records of its capital assets
  • Reconcile its bank accounts in a timely manner
  • Have adequate procedures for the collection and deposit of ticket fines
  • Have adequate controls to ensure employee time sheets were signed and verified
  • Submit the required fees from ticket fines to the appropriate agencies
  • Follow state law related to the handling of traffic ticket books
  • Maintain the required amount of cash in a bond reserve fund
  • Have adequate controls over utility fees
  • Properly use restricted bond proceeds; the proceeds were used for general operating expenses

The auditors also found large losses in the city's utility funds, and recommended consideration of budget cuts or fee increases for customers.

"The City of St. Martinville's Utility Fund experienced an operating loss in their Water and Wastewater Department in the amount of $98,886 and $372,678, respectively, for the fiscal year ended June 30,2021," the auditor found. "The City of St. Martinville should consider increasing water and wastewater rates and/or decreasing expenses within these departments to operate on a profitable basis."

The city's responses to the findings include promises to revise policies and procedures, and in some cases action already had been taken.

For instance, for the issue of utility charges, which began in 2018, the city stated that "management contacted their utility billing software provider to automate these charges. Effective March 2020, the late fees are automatically being added to customer accounts that meet the appropriate delinquent time period."

On the issue of the bond funds, the audit found that more than $250,000 was transferred from proceeds of a recreation bond to shore up the city's general fund. That money was paid back, but money obtained from selling bonds for a dedicated purpose is only to be used for that purpose under law. The city responded that "management will review their restricted cash balances and ensure that restricted funds are only utilized for their intended purpose."

A related finding, that the city did not maintain the proper balance of cash reserves for its bonds, hasn't been corrected, either, the audit found.

Auditors did find that several issues related to federal grants and funding had been fixed.

For instance, a technical issue with reporting on Coronavirus funds was fixed, and isolated issues within the Section 8 Housing program also were corrected.

If you'd like to read the entire audit for yourself, click here.