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Audit finds fault with Lake Arthur work records

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:22 AM

By Doris Maricle / American Press

LAKE ARTHUR — Some town employees, including the police chief, were not properly filing regular and overtime hours worked, according to a review of procedures.

Auditors with McElroy, Quirk and Burch were asked by the town to conduct an independent review of procedures to assist with accounting records and better accountability. The findings were released Monday by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.

“We wanted to do an evaluation of some of our management practices dealing with how we handle our policies to make sure we were in line with what we should be doing,” Mayor Robbie Bertrand told the American Press.

None of the findings warranted the town being in noncompliance, he said.

“Most of the findings recommended that we shore up our practices to make it transparent in our records with better documentation,” he said.

The town has implemented a corrective action plan, amending policies to provide for new procedures and timesheets, Bertrand said.

The report found that the Police Department did not have adequate backup to support regular and overtime hours worked. In addition, employees in the department did not fill out their own timesheets on a regular basis.

The report also found that the police chief estimated overtime hours worked instead of documenting actual hours worked. All departments were also found in violation of a town policy requiring employees to fill out their own timesheets.

In response to the finding, the police chief has changed the way time is being turned in. Each officer is filling out his own time sheet with the exact hours worked. Timesheets will also be reviewed and signed by the police chief before being turned in to City Hall. A separate record of overtime hours will also be kept by the chief for audit purposes.

Auditors reviewed the payroll process for each department, selecting a sample of pay periods in October, November and December. They also traced amounts paid to individuals back to documentation supporting the hours worked.

According to the findings, auditors said the town should strengthen their policy on documentation of hours worked by employees and that employees fill out their own timesheets. It was also recommended that employees sign a document attesting to the fact that they worked the hours listed on their timesheets.

Other recommendations include that the police chief keep a log of all overtime hours worked with the reason for the overtime and that the chief pay officers only for hours actually worked and not estimated hours worked.

Auditors also examined the cash disbursements process for each department, including requisitions, purchase orders, invoices and checks written.

A random sample of 40 disbursements from last August to December were reviewed.

Eleven of the 40 disbursements tested had purchase orders within the accounting system. But no disbursements tested had the supporting purchase order attached to the invoice and check stub at the time of disbursement.

Auditors also found that 34 out of the 40 invoices did not have department head signature of approval on the invoice.

The report recommended the town use a purchase order policy for disbursements and that a purchase order be obtained for any purchase of goods or service over a threshold set by management. It also recommended that any document supporting receipt of goods and the purchase order be matched to the invoice and attached prior to payment.

It also recommended that prior to submission to the council for approval, the listing of bills to be paid by the department should be given to each department head for final review.

Auditors also looked at the use of the town’s credit cards and selected a sample of credit card statements and trace amounts charged to proper documentation and pre-approval of the expenditure.

Three Visa statements for last October, November and December were tested.

It was found that all purchases were for business purposes with receipts available for all purchases. Thirty-four of the 39 receipts also contained a written description for the charge. Five receipts for meals and travel did not have all documentation required by IRS guidelines.

The report said documentation on credit card receipts for travel expenses should be more consistent with IRS guidelines, which include the amount, time, place and business purpose. The town should also establish a policy stating that all credit card receipts have a written description of the business purpose of the purchase.


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