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City audit finds money in an unlikely place - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

City audit finds money in an unlikely place

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SHREVEPORT, La -

What would you do if you found some money, a lot of money, to the tune of $2.6 million dollars.. That's exactly where city officials are after an audit found the money in an account from the old Shreveport Home Mortgage Authority. Now the word's out and it's time to find out what to do with all that cash-for the good of the entire city.

"This is why audits are good. They give you a chance to see where you have gaps and once you find out where those are, you can close them." said City Of Shreveport's Communications Director, Rod Richardson.  Richardson said an internal city audit found more than $2 million dollars sitting in the bank for the city's mortgage authority, which hasn't been fully operational in about 20 years. Now the city is working to move that money to a position to better serve shreveport, but they'll have to jump through a few hoops first. "It's a process, but I believe it will be done pretty quickly," Richardson said.

Here's what they have to do.
First, because the board of directors is out of date, Mayor Glover will have to appoint new board members to make decisions on the Mortgage Authority's behalf.
Second, a city council representative must be appointed to work in conjunction with the board.
Finally, those decision makers will come up with a transfer plan for the funds.
The process in all could take months.

"But it is certainly a resource that we don't want to just let languish. It's something that we want to put to use, it's public money that needs to go to a public use," Said City councilman Jeff Everson. Everson says the Mortgage Authority was formed in 1978 to help first-time home buyers when interest rates were upwards of 20% and the economic climate was different than it is today. The Authority loaned money to buyers for their down payment, then collected repayments from it's clients and that's where the money came from. "For this organization, there was a time where it seemed that it just wasn't necessary anymore so it just fell to the wayside."

In the past year Shreveporters have heard officials debate city needs like street repairs. The council also raised water and sewer rates last fall. So where does the forgotten mortgage money end up?  Council member Michael Corbin says he'd like to see the money go towards the city's reserve funds. "If we go out for another bond sale, that helps us get a better rating. And the reserve fund is our emergency fund. If something terrible happens, if we have a natural disaster that hits water and sewer plants, that's where we go in to make repairs."

"Once the transfer is complete, it's up to city officials to decide exactly what to do with all that money or what project or account it should go to. 
The internal audit has not been officially introduced to the city's audit and finance committee nor has it been introduced to the full council. Those are the first steps that must be taken before moving forward with the transfer of the funds.

More about that Mortgage Authority audit:
Not only have current members served 8 years beyond their authorized terms, but two are deceased.  
In August and September of 2013, months before the city approved its 2014 operating budget, the Glover administration met with internal auditors about the status of the authority.

 

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