Audit report: Claims of improper pay, reimbursements in Pointe Coupee unfounded

An investigative audit released Monday says auditors could not find proof to substantiate claims of irregularities over compensatory time payments and health care deductible reimbursements to Pointe Coupee Parish employees.

The legislative auditor’s audit report came to the same conclusion on allegations that employees were abusing parish credit card privileges by charging meals during work-related travel, then claiming the same expenses for reimbursement later.

“I was confident the report was going to come back OK,” Jury President Melanie Bueche said Monday.

Legislative auditors combed through the parish’s financial records after the Police Jury adopted a resolution Sept. 10 asking an investigative audit be performed after the allegations were lodged against employees.

The report does not name the employees or the departments involved in the investigation. The report also doesn’t identify who made the allegations to the Legislative Auditor’s Office.

Bueche said she knows the identity of the person, but would not give his or her name.

“It seems like at every corner there’s something else,” she said. “I hope eventually things will subside and we can get back to the business of running the parish.”

In a letter to Bueche about the investigative audit, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said his office reviewed employee payroll records between January 2012 through July 2013 regarding the allegation that an employee was illegally earning compensatory time.

“When a person works overtime, parish policy allows them to be paid for that time or get time off for a future date,” Purpera said Monday.

Parish policy prohibits any employee at the director level or above from earning compensatory leave.

“The payroll records indicate that although the employee kept a record of time worked in excess of her normal work schedule, she did not earn compensatory time,” Purpera wrote in the letter.

Purpera’s letter goes on to say no Pointe Coupee Parish employee was paid back more than the $4,500 limit for health care insurance deductible reimbursements in 2011 or 2012 despite allegations to the contrary.

Auditors determined the parish paid out $4,234 in 2011 and $244 in 2012 for employee health care deductible reimbursements.

The investigative audit did scold the parish for having weak oversight over employee accrued leave balances and offered a list of recommended policies and procedures to address other areas of concern within the parish’s accounting department.

The report acknowledged the Police Jury already had taken steps to address many of the concerns by agreeing in October 2012 to pay Faulk and Winkler approximately $100,000 annually to expand the accounting firm’s role in the parish’s day-to-day financial practices.

“Once we became aware of the procedures that were antiquated and needed to be updated, we expanded their role,” Bueche said. “We’re headed in the right direction.”