Killian considers steps to improve water bill collections

The town of Killian in Livingston Parish has failed to collect late fees on residents’ past due water bill accounts, according to the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.

A 2012 audit of the town’s finances revealed that the town’s water department was not collecting a 10 percent late fee, which is required by town ordinance, from nonpaying customers.

A letter released Monday by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office says Killian officials have not resolved that issue since the audit was completed, along with other issues.

Legislative Auditor’s Office officials recently met with Killian officials to discuss the 2012 audit findings, the letter says.

Killian Mayor Craig McGehee said Monday town officials have not been collecting the 10 percent fee on water because of resources.

He said the small town can only afford one clerk to handle finances.

McGehee said town officials have been addressing Legislative Auditor’s Office concerns about the water fee, along with the other issues highlighted in the letter.

McGehee said the town will consider upgrading its water billing software to assess the 10 percent fee automatically.

“That is something that we need to look into,” he said.

The 2012 audit says the town’s water department operated with a $25,304 deficit for the 2012 fiscal year, as well as deficits of $16,876 in 2011 and $30,964 in 2010.

The audit suggests the town establish water usage rates that adequately cover the water department’s expenses.

McGehee said he is not sure how much money the town is losing on unpaid water bills.

“We’ve been working hard just to get people to come in and pay their bills on time,” he said.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office’s letter also says the town’s property tax bills do not align with amounts recorded in the town’s general ledger.

The 2012 audit says the Livingston Parish Assessor’s Office prepares the town’s annual tax roll, while the town accountant then prepares invoices for property tax receivables.

But the totals on the invoices did not match the totals on the tax roll, meaning property tax assessments could not be properly accounted for, according to the audit.

McGehee attributed the property tax issue to a software glitch with the town’s accounting software that won’t carry over the figures from the invoices to the general ledger. He said officials are working on fixing the glitch and have reconciled the property tax bill issues.

“The auditors did find that there were some discrepancies — nothing major,” McGehee said.