Last Modified: Tuesday, August 05, 2014 11:08 AM
OBERLIN — An annual audit of the Allen Parish Police Jury’s finances show the parish to be in good financial standing with little debt and a slight deficit.
The audit, conducted by Tim Gates of Stutzman and Gates of Sulphur, was released Monday by the Legislative Auditor’s Office. It covers the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013.
Police Jury Secretary-Treasurer Colleen Sonnier said overall the parish is in good financial shape, hardly owing any money. Sales taxes are also up nearly $150,000, she said.
The parish owes about $300,000, which is not unusual for a police jury, she said. Most of the debt is owed by some of the road districts for equipment, including a tractor. It is unusual for a police jury to owe so little, Sonnier said.
The overall economy of Allen Parish is getting better, which Sonnier attributes to the increase in sales taxes which helps the police jury and other entities.
The audit does not include other components of the police jury, including water boards and fire districts, which lead to an adverse opinion being issued by the auditors.
In most cases an adverse opinion is bad, meaning that something was really wrong with the report. In this case, an adverse opinion was issued because like most police juries, the Allen Parish Police Jury did not include all component units of government.
Very few police juries in smaller parishes include all of the components because it is not feasible and can be costly, Sonnier said.
Among the findings, auditors found the police jury did not pay bond issue sinking funds and other fees on time.
The police jury missed the payment by a month because proceeds from the first tax revenues sufficient to pay the principal, interest and paying agent fees due in 2013 were not transferred into the sinking funds until Feb. 11, 2013, the audit stated.
The police jury received sufficient ad valorem tax revenues in January 2013 to comply with the requirements, but just did not deposit them into the sinking funds, the audit states.
“It happens,” Sonnier said, stressing that it was not done intentionally. “It was an administrative oversight. It was done in February rather than January.”
Failure to comply with the debt covenants could have an impact on the police jury’s ability to borrow funds in the future and could jeopardize the status of the present bonds, according to the auditor.
The audit also found three separate funds that have deficits totaling nearly $20,000, about half of which is in the parish road fund.
The parish road fund has had a deficit for the last few years because the revenues are used, but is better than it was four or five years ago, Sonnier said.
“All the money coming in is being spent, which is what we need to do,” she said. “The parish road fund has never had a lot of carryover because all the money that comes in is spent, whereas some of the other funds don’t spend as much, so they have a build up of fund balances.”
The parish is working to ease some of the problems by having the road districts take on more of the cost, she said.
Deficits were also reported in the coroner’s fund and airport fund, which had more expenses than revenues.
“We are just going to have to watch and follow the budget,” Sonnier said.