The Webster Parish Police Jury received a clean audit for the year ending 2015, with the exception of an issue with E-911.
Amy Tynes, with Allen, Green and Williamson LLP, explained the police jury received an adverse opinion, but it is only because there are so many agencies under their umbrella.
“As with most police juries across Louisiana, most of them get an adverse opinion,” she said. “It doesn’t sound good at first, and the only reason it is an adverse opinion is because the police jury is over a lot of different districts. Basically, our letter says that we can’t give an opinion, because all of those districts you are a part of are not included in the report.”
E911 and the primary government has been issued a clean opinion, she says, but they had one finding that was a carryover from 2014. According to the audit, the Communication District did not hold a public hearing nor publish the proposed 2015 budget which had expenditures greater than $500,000. The budget also did not include a side-by-side comparison detailing the prior year actual and the proposed 2015 budget.
“Once they were made aware of it, they were issued a procedure for it and they had already followed the same procedures for the 2015 budget,” she explained. “They have put procedures in place so this will not happen next year. This was basically a timing difference of when they were made aware of what they needed to do.”
The police jury also had one management comment dealing with practices that are outdated and need to be revisited. Tynes explained that with changes coming in legislative law, the police jury will need to put into place procedures from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office. She also recommended they study their policies, procedures and internal controls to see what can be strengthened.
One thing that is different this year is that the Office of Community Services is getting its own separate audit, she says, in order to help them with their standings in federal funding.
“The federal government does not understand an adverse opinion,” she said. “So this past year, we decided that it would be best to let the Office of Community Services split out and have its own report. An opinion can be issued strictly on them, because when we send their information to the federal government, and they see that adverse opinion, they don’t look at anything else. They really have had clean opinions in the past and this has really kept them from having federal grant funding come in.”
So, for this year, she says, only E911 and the primary government were included in the report.
Tynes went over the highlights of the report, showing jurors that in the statement of net position, the police jury had an ending balance of $978,446, with $733,864 in unrestricted funds. The remaining $244,582 is wrapped up in capital assets.
Sales taxes were down by $336,647, she says, but the library and the special 2.5 mill tax funds each had profits, with the library ending at roughly $4 million and the special 2.5 mill tax ending at roughly $1.4 million.
Police Jury President Jim Bonsall says he’s proud of the opinion, saying Webster Parish has a very good staff, and the audit opinion just confirms it.
“I hear what you say every year, and I’m proud of our staff and I’m proud that we’re not making any headlines anywhere,” he said. “It’s a big deal. You never hear anything about it until it’s bad, but I’m really proud of our staff. We want to try to do things for people that maybe 25 years ago, they did do, and now we can’t do it because of new laws. They keep us in check and they do a good job.”
He also expressed his appreciation to Tynes for their work.