East Feliciana Police Jury financial adviser quits

East Feliciana Parish police jurors entertained a motion Tuesday to dismiss their longtime financial adviser, but he beat them to the punch by resigning.

“I’ve worked for the Police Jury for about 30 years, and I’ve been able to make every juror mad at me, but I’ve never made a voting majority mad at me at one time,” said certified public accountant Phil Graham, a Clinton native who has a Baton Rouge accounting firm.

“You’re probably tired of me, and I’m tired of you,” Graham said.

Juror Dwight Hill put an item on the jury’s agenda to terminate both Graham and Baker certified public accountant Mary Sue Stages, who has done the jury’s audit for years.

Hill said the jury’s 2012 audit was late this year, and state agencies that funnel federal grants to the jury are holding up funds because they have questions about audits for the last three years.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Hill said.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office requires the Police Jury to submit audits within six months after the fiscal year ends. Graham said the jury’s audit has been submitted and accepted by the state auditor.

Stages told the jury last month that the 2012 audit was due July 1, but she did not receive an engagement letter from the jury until April.

“It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t the financial adviser’s fault,” Juror Larry Beauchamp said.

Graham said he was upset at being accused of causing the audit to be late, saying it was not his responsibility to ensure that the jury issues the required engagement letter to the auditor.

He said some of the questions that state agencies are asking about federal grants are not covered by the jury’s auditors. In the case of a Council on Aging grant that was on hold, Graham and Treasurer J.R. Rouchon said the auditor was unaware that the COA had a contract with the state.

“If it’s not in our files, she doesn’t know about it,” Rouchon said of Stages.

Graham helps prepare budgets and budget amendments and gives financial advice when requested.

“I want to part ways on good terms. Tell me how much help you want (in the transition),” Graham said.

“Evidently, Mr. Hill doesn’t want any help,” Beauchamp said.

Jurors voted to seek proposals from accounting firms for the 2013 audit and referred the matter of replacing Graham to the Finance Committee.