Audit: Pandemic inhibiting Louisiana Transportation Authority's ability to pay off state debt
BATON ROUGE - According to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office, a recent analysis of an area within the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) revealed that a pandemic-induced decrease in traffic has left one of the Department's divisions in debt to the state.
Auditors say DOTD's Louisiana Transportation Authority was created with the construction of the LA 1 Bridge in Leeville and began collecting tolls in the fiscal year 2010. Since that time, toll revenues have increased and decreased depending on traffic patterns and toll rates, officials say.
However, auditors noted that in the fiscal year 2020, toll revenues declined due to a decrease in traffic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Toll revenues declined by 14% in the second half of fiscal year 2020 compared to the prior year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the auditor's report stated on page 7, "which contributed to oil and gas industry layoffs that prompted a slump in traffic patterns.
So, the tolls collected between the fiscal years of 2018 and 2020 did not provide enough revenue to fully reimburse the State for debt payments made on the Authority’s behalf.
As a result, the Authority still owes the state millions of dollars.
While this was one concern found within DOTD's Louisiana Transportation Authority, the auditor spoke positively of other aspects of the Authority.
For example, the report said the Authority has sufficient internal controls in place to ensure transparency in relation to how it uses the public funds it collects.
The auditor also noted that the Authority provides a fair picture of its recent finances.
For additional details, view the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's full report here.
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