Credit card bills undocumented
BY bobby ardoin
Special to The Advocate
July 07, 2012
OPELOUSAS – The St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday night unanimously requested an internal financial audit of parish government credit card receipts for the past eight years.
Council member Alvin Stelly, who made the motion to order the audit, said residents of his district requested a more-thorough investigation of credit card charges in the wake of an audit presented to the council last week. That audit raised questions about the absence of 2011 receipts for an American Express credit card issued to the then-parish president.
“Several people have come up to me since that (June 20) meeting and asked me why the council only looked at two years for the credit cards,” Stelly said following Wednesday’s meeting. “They say why not go back eight years?”
Don Menard served as parish president from 2004 until December; Bill Fontenot became parish president in January.
At the June 20 council meeting, auditor Steven Moosa told council members that his 2011 financial audit indicates $7,138 of the charges on an American Express credit card used by the parish president were not documented with itemized receipts.
A further examination of the parish president’s credit card use reveals about $3,000 in receipts for 2010 also are undocumented, Moosa said.
Council member Pam Gautreau said Wednesday the council should be able to obtain an itemized account of the credit card purchases from 2004-2011.
The audit specifically criticizes parish government’s failure to substantiate any of the purchases made on the credit card.
The audit recommends all credit cards used by parish government should be “adequately documented for public purposes for which the expenditure is incurred.”
Fontenot advised council members at the June 20 meeting that the parish president’s office is properly documenting all credit card purchases made by parish employees.
In another matter, the council unanimously authorized the council’s attorney, Andrea West, to request all documents from the parish president’s office that are being sought by outside authorities conducting a financial investigations involving parish government.
West said outside agencies, which she declined to identify, are examining the financial records of parish government.
Identifying the agencies by name at present could jeopardize the investigation’s integrity, she said.
The president’s office might have problems obtaining all of the documents pertinent to the investigation, since they date back several years, Fontenot said.
Not knowing the purpose of the investigation also might make obtaining the records more difficult, Fontenot said.
The investigations of the type parish government will undergo could contain wide parameters, West said.
“You can never tell where an investigation might lead,” she said.