Patterson officials working to fix an array of audit issues

Patterson Mayor Rodney Grogan responded to audit reports with an agenda to correct procedures. (The Daily Review Photo)


The discovery that the City of Patterson was not following its city charter prompted an investigation by The Daily Review which revealed the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s website showed Patterson had been in violation of its charter, best accepted accounting practices and state law for over a decade.
Immediately after the first in a series of articles in mid-September, Mayor Rodney Grogan began what he called “corrective measures” and changing from the “protocol of my predecessors,” an endeavor he continues as the new year dawns.
A reporter was told the city does not make a public presentation of its annual audit because it is not required by state law, which is accurate, but the failure violates the city charter. Thus began a weeks-long investigation, interviewing more than 20 people, including a dozen from Patterson city government.
The first article reported the city had not publishing the minutes of its public meetings in the official journal for more than two years. This was a finding in the audit that had been released in January, but as was the custom, the audit was not publicly released or discussed.
Grogan said that he was unaware of the audit finding. Within days of the report the city’s administration began publishing the missed city council meeting minutes. The audit for fiscal 2012-13 will be presented in January or February depending on the auditor’s availability, Grogan said Monday.
Audit reports revealed at least three negative findings of state law and/or charter violations each year in Patterson since 2000 with repeated violations spanning three mayoral administrations.
Further reporting looked closer at how the city spent its revenues and found:
—The annual community fair lost $26,388 in 2012 and $19,513 in 2013.
—Elected officials and employees spent more than $100,000 — double the amount budgeted — on travel in the previous fiscal year.
In the aftermath of the articles, Grogan pushed through policies dealing with credit card usage and is in the process of addressing the use of city vehicles.
Grogan and some on the city council credit the reporting with initiating a process of change they say will work for the betterment of the city.
“I really believe from my heart that was a good thing for the city,” Councilman Joe Russo said of the articles.
“We are in corrective mode now and are moving ahead,” Grogan said Monday.

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