The first half of yesterday’s meeting of Jonesboro’s Board of Alderman was taken up by a report by J. Walker & Company’s Jonald Walker III, and his failed attempts to audit the town’s books. The meeting was delayed about 20 minutes from the scheduled Noon time, due to lack of a quorum. Finally, District C’s Charla Mason-Melton joined Alderman-at-large LaStevic Cottonham and District D’s Devin Flower, to allow the meeting to begin.
Walker explained that as an independent auditor, he could only offer an opinion on the town’s finances as presented to him, and could not act as the town’s accountant. He noted that the FY 2011-2012 time period he was examined was rife with inaccurate journal entries, and that many questions he had of the staff as to how a number was arrived at could not be answered.
Walker said that in order to have an accurate opinion, you have to have accurate numbers.
Said Walker, “If you’re not even willing to make your opening balances right, how do we get to the ending numbers to render an opinion.”
However, Walker did say that the personnel now employed by the town may have a better grasp of their duties than those formerly employed.
In other business, the board introduced the FY 2013-2014 proposed General Fund and Enterprise Fund (water, sewer) budgets. As we noted in our news story yesterday, a public hearing is set for 6/25/13, 5:30 PM.
The board also approved an amendment for the original 2012-2013 Enterprise Fund, but not without a bit of discussion.
As has been the case for nearly every Jonesboro meeting that we have covered for the past three years, none of the council had seen the budgetary documents prior to the meeting. Nor had the Enterprise Fund Amendment been reviewed at a public hearing, as is required by the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act (LLGBA).
But, as we learned last week, the town’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson says he can pick which laws to obey.
This must be one of those unnecessary laws.
Mason-Melton noted that she had not seen the amendment, and that some of the department heads also had no input for the changes.
Asked Mason-Melton, “Why wasn’t this included in our packet that we had delivered, so we could look over it?”
Mayor Thompson replied that they had just completed the amendment earlier in the day.
“Mayor, if Shaky (Water Department Head “Shaky” Green) hasn’t had the opportunity to look at it, what is the need to do it now?” Mason-Melton also asked. “We only got it today,” she added.
Finally, after more discussion, Flowers made the motion, with Mason-Melton seconding. It passed unanimously.
During the discussion mayor Thompson said it may be necessary to raise water rates to cover possible budget shortfalls.