Patterson audit meets charter rule

Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan

By PRESTON GILL pgill@dailyreview.com

For the first time in many years, the annual audit of Patterson city government was given to the council in a public meeting Tuesday night as is required by the city charter.
Alan Taylor of Kolder, Champagne, Slaven & Company offered no surprises in his presentation of the audit and said corrections to the findings have already been put in place by the city.
Taylor’s audit produced an unmodified opinion with six negative findings; most of which had been reported by The Daily Review last year and prompted Mayor Rodney Grogan to begin what he called “corrective measures mode.”
An unmodified audit does not include any caveats because the auditor has access to all the necessary documentation to accomplish the audit, Taylor explained.
Two of the findings began to be corrected within weeks of a series of articles by The Daily Review. The articles revealed the city went more than two years without publishing minutes of its public meetings in the official journal and uncovered the city was allowing six credit cards to be used for expenses that were not always accompanied with proper documentation of their business nature.
Grogan’s administration immediately began submitting meeting minutes after the articles and also began the process of implementing a credit card usage policy that controls the use of the cards and requires better documentation of purchases. Taylor noted those measures have been implemented.
Two negative findings dealt with the city not following its charter as to the timeliness of presenting financial reports and the fiscal operating budget. These were findings in the previous audit which were unresolved but Taylor said he thinks the administration now has a handle on the issue and it will be resolved so that the reports are given to the council within the time frame demanded by the charter.
A finding stated the city had material adjustments that needed to be made to its financial statement, which Taylor said he often finds in his audits of other entities. He said that in working with city accountant Reginald Weary, he expects the issue will be resolved.
The final finding showed the city budget had a pair of instances with variances in budgeted funds that exceeded the 5 percent allowed by state law without having to amend the budget. The city’s response said monthly budget reports are prepared that compare the budget to actual revenues and expenses. Those reports, the city said, will enable it to make timely adjustments to projected budget forecasts when they exceed the 5 percent variable.
“We have taken corrective measures and we are moving forward,” Grogan said, as Taylor concluded his presentation.
Fay Babin asked the council and public to join in her grassroots crusade to give career criminals meaningful prison sentences. Babin was featured in The Daily Review claiming she had been victimized with burglaries by the same man at least six times. The man she says is the culprit, James Joseph Sr., was arrested nearly 40 times since 1972 with multiple convictions, according to St. Mary Parish Clerk of Court records.
She picked up at least one more person for her petition with a signature after the meeting. Tim Aucoin said he supports her drive. He said he wants law enforcement and the court system to work together in getting career criminals arrested and kept behind bars.
Babin expressed her appreciation to Police Chief Patrick LaSalle for his support and for officers responding each time she called them out. Joseph was arrested on Oct. 30 after Babin said she came home and found him in her house. She said she can be reached at faybabin@gmail.com for information on how to sign her petition.
LaSalle requested his addition to the agenda on a separate issue before the meeting began. He said his department has a procedure currently in place for officer promotion and rankings, but it is being reviewed by city attorney Russel Cremaldi in a written form.
The Patterson Police Department has two corporals, a sergeant, a captain and an assistant chief. The department has a lieutenant position, but no officers currently hold that rank, LaSalle said.
The police chief also approved a permit for a Martin Luther King Jr. parade on Jan. 20. The route of the parade will be from Grout Street to Main Street to Cleveland Street and ends on Cherry Street.
Public Works Director Steve Bierhorst said that while Willow Street has only one family living there now, the city expects future development on the street and is planning on a sewer line. But the city is not equipped to tie in the line at the man hole location on Taft Street so that portion of the project has to be let out to bids.
The city hopes to save money by tying the Willow Street project in with the Martin Luther King Sewer Rehabilitation Project which is expected to go out to bids in about a month, Bierhorst said.

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