KILLIAN -- The fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, left a number of issues for the Town of Killian to deal with in the wake of a contentious mayoral race.
The Board of Aldermen received a report on its audit for that year from CPA Phil Hebert, who owns his own firm in Albany and Pontchatoula, at its monthly meeting May 13.
Hebert brought a number of findings to the board’s attention.
The first stated that there was not “adequate segregation of duties” between town staff because there was not enough staffing. The finding recommended hiring an outside accountant. The town addressed this issue by hiring Rami Harkcom in November as an assistant to the mayor who took over accounting duties from Town Clerk Cathy Posey.
Hebert then worked with both Harkcom and Posey on issues to ensure adequate controls, including reconciling collections with the general ledger along with other compensating measures made necessary by the small staff.
“We’re trying to leave you in a better place,” Hebert said of the control and segregation measures the town has implemented with his assistance. “Obviously, a lot of that stuff was set up after June 30, in the last few months.”
Hebert then turned to findings concerning the water department.
“The water revenues continue to be insufficient to cover the operating expenses of the water department,” Hebert read from the findings. The concern is that revenue is not sufficient to cover depreciation of equipment. The town reported a $28,497 loss after depreciation, according to the audit.
Hebert pointed out that this issue is being addressed through the reconciliation controls that have been implemented and that Mayor Gillis Windham has been in contact with vendors to discuss installing water meters in the town, among other options.
Currently, the town charges a flat fee of $30 because the water meters the town uses haven’t worked in a number of years, according to Windham. Hebert also noted that there has been an increase in cash, though he wasn’t certain if that was due to an increase in revenue collection or a grant the town received.
The town was also cited for not adopting a budget before the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2017, as well as turning in its audit after the deadline of Dec. 31, 2018.
Hebert said it is not unheard of for a budget to be adopted late.
“It’s better to have no budget than a bad budget,” he told the board, but recommended beginning work on the new budget as soon as possible. Windham presented the board with his proposed budget at the meeting and it will be up for public discussion at the village’s June meeting.
The audit was delayed because the previous auditor opted out of the work from the town, The News previously reported.
Hebert’s services were not procured until November 2018 when Windham took office, which left him little time to meet the end-of-year deadline. He recommended hiring a firm as early as May or June to perform the audit at the close of the fiscal year.
The final issue raised by the findings, what Hebert called “an allegation,” concerned possible unauthorized use of a police vehicle by former Mayor Peter Bock on at least three occasions.
“We’re just going to recommend that only law enforcement officers on official duty operate police vehicles,” Hebert said. “That’s up to you to enforce it.”
Hebert ended his report on the findings on a positive note, saying he felt a number of steps had been taken to move the town in the right direction.
“Hopefully this is a good report going forward,” he said. “We’ll still have to look at the numbers going forward and make sure we’re generating enough revenue in the utility fund and that kind of thing.
“I felt like I was very pleased at the end with what we were able to accomplish in getting the reconciliation taken care of and getting some of these controls in place.”