Sorrento officials working to address audit concerns

Mayor Mike Lambert told the Town Council on Tuesday that town officials are working on a plan to address issues raised in an audit about thousands of dollars in delinquent utility bills and traffic fines that have gone uncollected.

Lambert said he met with Town Attorney Matthew Percy and accountant Jacob Waguespack to discuss the plan but was unsure if it would be ready to present to the Town Council by its next meeting March 18.

The town’s outside auditor, Postlethwaite and Netterville, of Gonzales, recently released an audit for the 2013 fiscal year that says the town has not collected $19,400 in delinquent utility bills, nor $53,000 in fines from tickets issued by the Police Department.

The audit’s findings are part of a multi-year trend showing monies owed to the town.

Between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2013, the Police Department was not able to collect a combined $529,000 in ticket fines and court fees.

During this same time, the town was owed a combined $47,800 in delinquent sewer and garbage bills, the audit said.

The town provides garbage and sewer service and collects franchise fees from a private water company.

Lambert said officials are working to renegotiate its garbage contract with Allied Waste Services which expires at the end of this fiscal year but said garbage rates will not increase this year.

As a result of the audit findings, Lambert also asked council members to look over a proposed financial policies and procedures guide that would identify methods to improve and execute the town’s financial reporting, budgetary policies and personnel and travel policies.

The town implemented the policies last fall but has yet to make them law by putting them into ordinance form, Lambert said.

Lambert said the policies and procedures draft was introduced at a Town Council meeting two years ago but no action was taken.

“This is something in the audit we need to do,” Lambert said, adding he hopes to make the draft law by the beginning of the next fiscal year July 1.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated Mayor Mike Lambert said sewer rates will not increase this year. In fact, he said garbage rates will not increase this year. The Advocate regrets the error.