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Audit questions spending, tax collections of sheriff

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Posted: Jan 13, 2014 10:42 PM by Trey Schmaltz
Updated: Jan 14, 2014 6:17 AM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: audit, spending, st. helena, sheriff

GREENSBURG- Auditors, looking over the sheriff's accounting books here for the Legislative Auditor, suggest the St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Office keeps messy books and may have broken the law concerning how it purchased telephone equipment recently.

"The Sheriff violated the public bid law for the purchase of a $19,963 phone system," the auditor wrote in the report. Auditors said the sheriff should have requested at least three companies bid on the project before selecting one. However, the sheriff's office said there was only one company available to do the work since only one telecommunications company services the area around the sheriff's office.

For that, and other reasons, auditors suggested the sheriff's office make a list of policies and procedures dealing with purchasing.

"The Sheriff does not have a comprehensive written procedures manual," an auditor wrote. "A written set of policies and procedures is a good business practice. Lack of written instructions can lead to incorrect and inconsistent practices."

Among other issues were how credit card spending was tracked, along with travel and expense reimbursement. In addition, auditors suggested better practices for dealing with contracts and payroll.

According to the audit, the department also needs to improve how tax and occupational licenses are handled, reporting that there is not an adequate policy for monitoring delinquent accounts. More than $52,000 is owed to taxing bodies and has not been collected by the sheriff's office. An additional $7,528 is owed for civil fund collections, too. The sheriff is responsible for handling those collections and responded that "a policy for the collection of past due sales tax and occupational license accounts will be implemented" and is in the process of determining to whom these monies are owed.
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