The (Shreveport) Times
State officials don’t want the town of Gibsland to become like its neighbor in Jonesboro, where the financial condition of the Jackson Parish town is in such disarray a court-appointed fiscal administrator has been calling most of the shots for the past few months.
That’s why Gibsland Mayor Odell Key, Mayor Pro Tem Marketris Jones and clerk Altheas Critton were called to appear before the three-member Fiscal Review Committee on Tuesday afternoon in Baton Rouge to go over recent audit findings and answer questions about how town officials expect to remedy its financial position.
At the conclusion, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said his office will continue to monitor the town. The hope is not to have to summon the elected officials back in three months.
But Purpera, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Assistant Attorney General Rick McGimsey hammered home the fact that Key has a responsibility as mayor to be accountable to the town, its residents and the state. And part of the responsibility is to provide accurate and timely financial information to the Board of Aldermen.
The lack of adequate financial data is one of the many complaints Gibsland aldermen have filed against Key in connection with a criminal investigation under way by the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff John Ballance has been working almost nonstop since June, assisted at times by the legislative auditor’s and attorney general’s offices, in the probe that also focuses on allegations on misappropriation of public funds.
The (Alexandria) Town Talk
BATON ROUGE — Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson says a court-appointed administrator to try to straighten out the town’s finances wants too much and can’t be satisfied.
Fiscal administrator William Ryder, appointed by July 24 by 2nd Judicial District Court Judge Jimmy Teat to untangle years of financial problems, says if the mayor would cooperate, his job could be wrapped up in relatively short time.
But as members of the Fiscal Review Committee found Tuesday, cooperation is not high on the agenda.
“I’m starting to wonder do we have the same goals in mind,” Thompson said. “I don’t believe the court or statute calls for what we’ve gotten in a financial administrator. … No matter what we do, it’s not good enough.
“I can’t help it because I’m the first African-American mayor,” he said.
“The mayor needs to be more proactive, more cooperative,” Ryder said, but instead, Thompson is doing things like not interviewing a suggested candidate for town clerk and instead soliciting a retired school board administrator for the job.
The committee told Ryder that he should interview Gloria Moore and if he believes she is equipped to do the job, to hire her. If not, he should find someone who can do it.
Thompson cautioned “If he did that, we would be so far out of order there would be chaos.”
Ryder said the mayor and council have known for some time that it had problems with water service but no action was taken.
A survey found about 600 water meters are malfunctioning, that 137 dwellings are receiving water but not being billed, that some residents are receiving excessive bills and 429 meters aren’t being read. Ryder said there’s some overlap in the count.
He said the town is $80,000 short in its water works account.
Another problem, Ryder said, is “As of today, as far as I know, the town does not have property insurance.”
KTVE – TV10
Jonesboro’s Fiscal Administrator says the town’s general fund records list thousands of dollars in investments that don’t actually exist.
And that’s just one issue he pointed out to the state’ Fiscal Review Committee Tuesday.
Bill Ryder says Jonesboro’s books show $320 thousand in investments that don’t actually exist Ryder says it may have been a clerical error But it shows–after 4 years– the town still isn’t ready to be audited.
Ryder also told the fiscal review committee the town is giving some employees holiday pay and benefits they shouldn’t receive because they don’t work full-time.
He says the town is overcharging some residents on water bills while others aren’t being charged at all. And Ryder adds that bank reconciliations aren’t up to date and he can’t confirm the mayor’s revenue projections are actually realistic because the mayor won’t give him the information he needs.