Monroe, LA accountant William R. Hulsey presented 2008 audits for the police jury and the Humanitarian Enterprises of Lincoln Parish. Both agencies received unqualified opinions. Complete budgets were with the audit and will be posted when available.
Several things jumped out at us. The Police Jury net assets increased from about $52 million to about $53.5 million. Revenues increased from about $15.7 million to about $16.1 million. Total expenses increased from about $12.7 million to about $14.6 million. The two most significant components for the expense increase was Public Works which went from about $6.8 million to about $7.7 million and General and Administrative which increased from about $2.3 million to about $3.3 million. All the figures represent 12/31/07 vs 12/31/08 comparisons.
The public works increase is logical because of the significant increase in equipment fuel and road paving materials – hot mix, asphalt, etc – during 2008. We have requested additional breakdown of the G&A numbers to see why they increased so dramatically and will post them when available.
The police jury appears financially healthy while the local, state and national private economies are enduring a severe recession. Several area wood products plants have either shut down or curtailed operations.
Asked if there were any plans to cut taxes or roll back property tax assessments, District Eight Juror and President Skip Russell said it was his intention to work toward that goal. District Twelve Juror Mickey Mays would not commit to tax decreases – or increases at this time.
Also of note is that the Police Jury is sitting on a fat cash surplus of about $21.5 million. Some observers think this is good as it allows them to operate all year without having to borrow money during periods when tax revenues might fluctuate. Others suggest the money be returned to the taxpayers as large surpluses can sometime lead to use of the Bladder Theory of Finance.
Compare all this to what the City of Slidell, LA did this past Tuesday.
Earlier, the Community Block Grant Committee met to consider applying for a sewer grant of about $750 thousand for the Mt. Olive Community, north of Grambling. To complete the project, a loan of almost the same amount would be required to build a treatment plant. As the project would serve only about 60 households, the loan amortization and fees would be prohibitive. The committee declined to request the grant.
The Insurance Committee met to discuss buying liability coverage for the parish landfill. Randy Graham of Lincoln Agency presented proposals. After discussion, the issue was tabled until the September meeting to allow Police Jury Attorney Andy Shealy time to review the proposals.
The Solid Waste Committee met and discussed distribution of the solid waste reserve funds to area municipalities. Ruston Mayor Dan Hollingsworth and Grambling Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Jones were there to make sure their shares wouldn’t be missed if/when the money flows.
The committee decided to defer action until purchase of commercial insurance, which would relieve the need to carry a reserve. That reserve now serves as “insurance” in case of liability.
The committee was then treated to a 30-minute show-and-tell from Trailblazer’s Ellzey Simmons describing how his agency would Save The World by recycling newspapers that should probably not have been printed in the first place. The (Shreveport) Times and The (Monroe) News-Star, both Gannett papers; and the Ruston Daily Leader apparently print thousands of unread copies that end up in landfills and recycling bins. A good argument could be made that it isn’t worth the trees dying in the first place.
Simmons finally got to the real reason he was there: money. He wants the Jury to cough up $40 thousand a year for operation plus a donation of land for a recycling center on the site of the old parish road barn. The Jury now contributes about $1200 per year to Trailblazer.
The next scheduled Police Jury meeting is July 14, 2009.
UPDATE: 12:50pm, 6/26/09
LPPJ Treasurer Bobby Gray just sent us some information on the $1 million increase in the General & Administrative account for the year. We had mentioned that in our initial story last night.
Most of the money is a one-time adjustment to account for potential liabilities for post-employment benefits – medical, dental, etc. It is required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board and is referred to as GASB 45.