Avoyelles Police Jury ended 2016 with $1.26M surplus

Auditor cautions to stop General Fund deficit spending

Usually when someone addresses the Avoyelles Police Jury, it is almost always bad news -- bad road, bad bridge, bad drainage, etc. Jurors heard a little good news at their meeting this past Tuesday (June 13) when auditor Seth Norris told them that almost all of the parish’s operating accounts ended the 2016 budget year in good shape.

Norris, of Kolder-Slaven-Champagne & Co. accountants, said the parish ended 2016 with almost $13.25 million in their operating accounts. However, he noted that most of that amount is from dedicated sources and cannot be used for any undedicated purposes.

Police Jury President Charles Jones said the audit report bears out what jurors have been saying: “We are living within our means.”

The General Fund’s revenues can be used for any purpose. The jury had a balance of $854,816 in that fund.

It ended 2016 with $1.14 million in the Road & Bridge fund, almost $4.68 million in the Solid Waste fund, $1.12 million in Drainage, almost $2.78 million in Health Unit, almost $2.15 million in Library, $211,170 in HUD, $317,216 in other governmental funds and only $15 remaining in the Gustave-Ike grant account.

Those fund balances have accumulated over several years.

While it might be tempting to use those reserves for much-needed road, bridge and drainage projects, Norris advised the jury to maintain an emergency reserve in those accounts.

Norris said most of the accounts have at least the 60-day reserve recommended to allow them to continue operations in the event of an emergency or interruption of a revenue source.

$1.26 MILLION SURPLUS

The auditor said the Policy Jury had total revenues of almost $10.9 million and total expenditures of $9.63 million.

Two funds had to dip into their reserves to cover expenses.

The General Fund spent $252,795 more than it took in in revenues. A transfer of $60,012 from four other accounts reduced the General Fund deficit to $192,783, which dropped that account’s reserve under the $1 million mark that it started the year with.

The Gustav-Ike grant-funded project spent $304 more than it had budgeted, but fortunately started the year with $319 unspent in 2015.

Norris said the Police Jury’s General Fund is strong at this time. However, he said the parish must take steps to avoid having to use reserves to cover annual deficits in the account, which it has done for the past few years.

The parish received $1.26 million more in revenue than it spent. Of that amount, $462,041 was in Solid Waste, $359,209 was in Health Unit, $331,011 was in Library, $176,467 was in Drainage and $119,701 was in Road & Bridge. HUD/Section 8, which is federally funded, had $30,141 more in revenue than expenditures and the “other government funds” line item showed a $38,787 surplus for the year.

There were no serious problems found in the audit.

Norris told jurors that it violated the state Parish Transportation Act because it mixed funds for parish roads with other non-designated funds and it has not adopted a formal capital improvement program and selective maintenance program, as required by that law.

He said the money in question was spent appropriately and was not misappropriated, but there is insufficient documentation for accounting purposes.

The Police Jury said Civil Works Director Kevin Bordelon, hired earlier this year, will address that issue and ensure the parish complies with all aspects of state law.

The parish has established a separate account for road funds to better keep track of how those funds are spent.

AVOYELLES JOURNAL
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