Livingston auditor proposal deferred

LIVINGSTON — Livingston Parish School Board members on Tuesday deferred discussion on the possible creation of an internal auditor position, citing a tight budget and possible duplication of work already performed by existing staff.

Accountant Ferdie Genre, of Hannis T. Bourgeois LLP, said his firm has been suggesting the creation of such a position for several years because of the size of the Livingston Parish school district.

“To audit this School Board, we cannot look at every transaction. We can’t even look at every transaction in a particular category,” Genre told the board members on Oct. 23, when they first considered the matter.

An internal auditor could evaluate risks in various areas and help system officials set internal controls, Genre said.

The job’s pay range would likely top out around $80,000 a year, depending on the applicant’s qualifications, and may pay for itself in savings and efficiencies the auditor is able to find, Genre said.

Considering the matter again Tuesday, however, board members said they would have a hard time justifying the creation of another position during tight fiscal times and voted to postpone acting on the issue.

“We just turned down several raises asked for in the Transportation Department, and I just don’t see spending that money,” board President Malcolm Sibley said.

Board member Jimmy Watson said an auditor may be able to help the district reduce workers compensation claims, but he would find it difficult to spend money on a new position, given recent state mandates and teacher morale.

Interim Superintendent John Watson said many of the suggested functions of an internal auditor already are being performed by existing staff.

“We’ve been doing individual school audits annually for the past five years or more,” Watson said. “We can always become more efficient in a lot of ways, but a school audit is not really going to save general fund money, and federal program funds are already closely audited by the state.”

If school officials believe there may be ways to cut spending in a particular area, system staff can always do a targeted audit, he said.

“Anything we can do to become more efficient and save money, I’m all for, but in my personal opinion, I don’t think at this time we should spend the $40,000 to $80,000 to do this,” Watson said.