Audit of City-Parish reveals multiple challenges, including theft of over $70k in equipment
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office filed a telling report that revealed serious concerns in relation to to East Baton Rouge City-Parish's Office of Community Development (OCD) and its administration of the federally funded HOME program during 2019 in addition to other issues within City-Parish offices.
According to the auditor's report, key paperwork meant to justify how funding from the HOME program had been used was missing; the auditor's report also highlighted the theft of over $70,000 in city-parish equipment.
The Rental Housing Development (Multifamily) HOME Rental Housing Program is designed to offer loans to affordable housing developers so they can build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing. It's also meant to provide direct rental assistance to low-income individuals.
While the organization's task is an admirable one, the money it provided via the city-parish may have been distributed erroneously.
According to the state auditor, the OCD could not provide necessary documentation proving it evaluated projects before committing HOME program funds to such projects.
On top of this, OCD did not have the required paperwork that detailed the following required items:
-Documented inspections for rental units funded by the HOME program
-Paperwork proving that project contractors had complied with prevailing wage requirements
-Annual reports from all of the developers of rental housing funded by the HOME program
In addition to the lack of required paperwork that would justify the way HOME funds were spent by OCD, the audit revealed that certain city-parish retirees may not be getting the money they were owed.
The state auditor says it discovered, "an underfunding of a retirement plan for certain city police employees who transferred membership to the Municipal Employees’ Police Retirement System."
The auditor also noted a shocking act of theft by a Maintenance Department employee. The employee stole city-parish limestone valued at $3,965. Documentation proves that authorities were called in to handle the case. The employee accused of taking the limestone has since resigned and repaid the city in full for what they stole.
But a second theft of city-parish goods remains under investigation by authorities, the auditor's report states.
A loader, valued at $68,000 was stolen and is still missing; an investigation into its whereabouts is ongoing.
Click here to read the auditor's full report on what was found in relation to EBR City-parish.
This report illustrates one of the state auditor's major responsibilities, which is to ensure local government entities have adequate controls in place that confirm the accountability of public funds as well as compliance with state and federal laws, regulations, and grant agreements.