Government plaza

Practices at Shreveport's Finance Department during 2018 are scrutinized in the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's report.

SHREVEPORT La -- Shockwaves were rippling through Government Plaza Wednesday after a state audit showed serious deficiencies in the City of Shreveport's Finance Department, according to some on the city council who've seen it.

District C Councilman John Nickelson brought the subject up at this week's meeting, saying, "Some of the findings that the external auditor has made really are shocking for an organization the size of Shreveport. And it's my view that we can not effectively conduct the business of the public if we can not remedy those deficiencies."

Shreveport Chief Administrative Officer Sherricka Jones responded to Nickelson, saying, "There's not a single item on that last that we have not touched. And we've either addressed them or are in the process of addressing them, or we've got some plans in place to make sure we get those things done. So we're all over this."

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's report was expected to go public next week. It covers 2018 -- the final year of the Ollie Tyler administration.

District D Councilman Grayson Boucher has also read the audit. He declined to give specifics since it's not public yet. But he said it has up to 20 pages of findings. Boucher said some of them were minor. But he described some major ones.

"We have about $9 million of money in the bank at one point that was not FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insured. Then we also have some payroll issues where we weren't sending our quarterly payroll taxes to the LDR (Louisiana Department of Revenue)," Boucher said.

Boucher said this could give some voters pause when they head to the polls in November on that $186 million dollar bond plan.

"My biggest concern has always been that we might not be able to manage it in such a huge chunk. I would rather have seen us take it step by step, finish one project and move on to another one."

But CAO Jones says the Perkins administration is serious about taking corrective actions.

She gave a written statement that reads in part, "The city has taken action on each audit finding. Each finding has either been resolved or tighter controls are currently being implemented.

"The administration ... has been extremely proactive addressing concerns," Jones continued. "The Governmental Finance Officers Association' will be working with our finance department in-house over the coming months. The GFOA is the gold standard for governmental finance. They will further assist the finance department with reassessing their policies and procedures."

Boucher hopes those corrective measures happen. But he said the audit could be the subject of continued debate, as the administration, council, and the city's internal auditor all comb through it.

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