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Clean audit returned at Pine Prairie council meeting

Even with the police clerk being accused of mishandling funds, the Village of Pine Prairie received a clean audit from its accountant. The audit news came at the village’s council meeting last Thursday.
“Y’all are doing a great job on the town,” said certified public accountant Shirley Vige, Jr., with Vige, Tujague, and Noel.
Vige pointed out that the village this year has $990,444.00 in cash and interest bearing deposits in 2017 compared to $773,261.00 the year before. He also pointed out that ad valorem taxes receivable for 2017 was $88,807.00 compared to 2016’s amount of $50,511.00. According to Vige total assets of the village went up from $874,099.00 in 2016 to $1,170,191.00 this past year.
With the completion of drainage work, total expenditures for the village went from $1,080,129.00 in 2016 down to $912,458.00 in 2017. Vige said, “you have money to fall back on throughout the year, so that’s a good thing.”
Included in the findings of the audit were improper handlings of traffic citations and fines. The same matter had previously been brought to the council’s attention after a report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
The audit from Vige stated, “records indicate that the village police clerk failed to record and deposit all cash received from the traffic fines and citations and altered public records to conceal total cash amounts collected. The village also failed to follow state law in handling the (police clerk’s) receiving citations for driving under suspension.”
Vige’s audit recommended, “that the village consult with legal counsel to determine appropriate legal actions to be taken, including recovery of the missing funds. We also recommend that the village develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure that payments collected by the village are accounted for and deposited daily.”
In the village’s response, Mayor Quint West stated, “The village agrees with the finding, and the auditor’s recommendations have been adopted. The former police clerk made full restitution in February 2018.
The other finding in Vige’s audit is inadequate segregation of duties, which is common for small municipalities like Pine Prairie.
“The village does not have an adequate segregation of duties, to serve as a check and balance system, to assist in the prevention of erroneously recording transactions or other mistakes or inappropriate actions,” said Vige’s audit. “Segregation of duties is inadequate because of the lack of manpower, i.e., a limited number of personnel.”
For this finding, Vige’s audit recommended, “within the constraints of a limited number of staff, a detailed supervisory review of related activities as a compensating control activity. Management needs to take a more active role in achieving segregation of duties, by reviewing the work done by other employees. Sometimes, the knowledge that records will be reviewed by others is enough to prevent misappropriation of assets.”
Mayor West in the village’s response stated, “We are aware of and have evaluated this inadequacy and concluded that the related costs versus benefits to be achieved does not justify the additional personnel it would require to establish an adequate segregation of duties. However, we will try to segregate duties as much as possible with the existing staff.”
In other business, the council:
• appointed The Ville Platte Gazette as the official journal.
• adopted a resolution of 2018 property tax millages.

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