OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council is considering legal action against Parish President Bill Fontenot if he does not help locate financial records the council requested last month in connection with the administration of former Parish President Don Menard.
The council, by a 7-3 vote during a special council meeting Thursday night, gave Fontenot until Tuesday to allow Council Attorney Andrea West to obtain copies of documents that she and other authorities may need in any investigations of the parish president’s office during 2010-11.
Although West has been vague about which agencies may be investigating Menard’s handling of his administration’s finances, she made it clear Thursday that Fontenot is not the subject of any current investigation.
Among the items for which West has requested copies are financial statements for each month in 2011, an inventory of parish assets, such as laptop computers, cellphones, video equipment and monitoring devices, invoices for professional services, lists of contractors for all parish building renovation and remodeling projects and copies of all bid contracts.
The council is also interested in Menard’s 2011 use of an American Express credit card that was questioned in June during an internal parish government audit presented by Steven Moosa, West said in an interview after the meeting.
In the audit, Moosa, of Darnall, Sikes, Gardes and Frederick, a CPA firm, found there are no receipts for $7,138 in charges on the credit card used by Menard in 2011.
Also in the interview, West said the company’s statement of the charges are available, but the council has written American Express for copies of the receipts in order to ascertain whose signature is on the invoices.
During Thursday’s meeting, Fontenot said the large number of documents West needs is extensive and will take some time to retrieve from the parish government record archives in a hangar at the St. Landry Parish Airport.
He invited West to look through the boxes of records in the hangar at her convenience.
West told Fontenot she works part time as council attorney and expects Fontenot to make copies of specific records available upon her request.
St. Landry’s Home Rule Charter requires the president to give the council any information it requires, West said.
“Under the charter, it is there in three different places that the president must comply with the custodian of records for information made by the council or any individual member of the council,” West said.
In a Tuesday letter from West to Fontenot, West wrote that, “I have requested copies of the documents, not to review the documents.”
In Thursday’s meeting, District Attorney Earl Taylor said the documents West wants are the council’s own documents and there should no problem in providing copies upon request.
Voting to have Fontenot comply with the council’s request were Jerry Red Jr., Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Huet Dupre, Ronald Buschel, Jimmie Edwards, Pam Gautreau and Gary Courville.
Those voting “no” were council members Hurlin Dupre, Alvin Stelly and Leon Robinson.
Council members Dexter Brown and Timothy LeJeune were absent.