Auditor’s Ferriday report suggests specific remedies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 1999

FERRIDAY, La. – In a report released Monday, Louisiana State Auditor Dan Kyle recommended seven steps the Town of Ferriday should take to improve the way it does business.

According to the report, the town needs to step up its efforts to:

– Keep track of traffic tickets. Ticket books are kept in an unlocked closet, and the police department does not reconcile the number of ticket books taken with the number of citations issued. No records are kept showing the status of citations issued. The department’s administrative assistant does everything from collecting traffic fines to preparing court minutes.

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– Control receipts and spending. The town buys things for workers and deducts from their checks until the amount is paid. In one case, the town bought a worker a $685 radio and took $25 from the person’s check until it was paid off. The town is holding money from two workers’ checks to pay off their debts to a finance firm.

The town does not restrictively endorse checks it receives. Bank statements are not received unopened by the mayor or council members for review. The town does not review bills for gasoline before paying them.

– Control payroll. All workers do not complete time cards for each pay period, and there is no proof that the police chief approves his department’s cards. One worker reported working up to 21 hours a day between his Ferriday police job and other full-time jobs.

There is no record on file of workers’ salary and wage amounts. Some workers’ files do not contain proof of worker eligibility required by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Also, the town’s policy says that a worker cannot build up more than 80 hours of yearly leave, but some have more than 80 hours.

– Control utility accounts and deposits. As of April 30, the utility accounts balance in the general ledger was $163,505, while the detailed listing of accounts showed a balance of $108,780 – a gap of more than $54,000. The cash balance in the meter deposit account was $3,053, but deposits in the general ledger totaled $68,233. &uot;We were informed that the town used monies from the meter deposit bank account to purchase water meters,&uot; the review said.

– Collect past-due utility accounts. Town policy states that water service will be cut off if the bill is not paid on or before the 15th day of the following month. As of May 31, $36,849 was past due, and many with accounts over 90 days past due still got water. As of May 31, about 100 water meters were broken. Since those households are billed the lowest amount, the town lost money.

– Make at least the minimum monthly payment to all its funds. Required payments were not made to the Sales Tax Reserve Fund and to water and sewer reserve and contingency funds, so the town is violating bond agreements.

– Keep detailed records of town assets. Records of land, buildings, improvements, equipment and other assets are not current.

State law requires records to include the date and cost of purchases. Inventories are not made yearly, and the last – made in 1996 – did not include all assets.