The Natchitoches Parish Journal recently printed several articles reflecting on the status of the Parish Government since changing its form of government to a Home Rule Charter. One of the articles in particular addressed the changes in the financial operations of the Parish and whether or not there have been improvements to the system. The employee who provided the information, in accordance with a Public Information Request as required by law, answered questions that were posed. Since the publication of the article, it has been rumored that some former elected officials have threatened a lawsuit.
Before going any further, the accuracy of the items cited in the article should be known. In May of 2000, the State Legislative office released its findings on an investigative report wherein a Police Juror received $27,976 in commission payments, in violation of state law, for insurance policies purchased by the Police Jury from the Police Juror’s insurance company. In August of 2004, the State Legislative Auditor’s office again investigated the Police Jury when a Police Juror profited from a Police Jury Construction Contract. The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office has the audits for the Parish of Natchitoches back to 1995 available online (see below). Of the 18 years available, only in 2004, 2005 and 2006 did the Parish have an audit with no findings to be cleared. In all of the other years, the Parish was repeatedly cited for issues associated with the OCS program (1996, 1998, 2001-2003, 2008-2012), failing to follow State Bid laws (2003 and 2012) and for not properly amending the budget when there was a 5% unfavorable variance (1997- 2000, 2010). It does not take very much time looking through the audits to determine that the Parish has been fraught with problems for years.
Also, the condition of the roads in the Parish and how it is that they got that way has been a hotly debated topic of late. In 2012, just prior to the change in form of government, the Police Jury voted to spend $883,622.73 overlaying just 7 roads in the Parish. This decision drained the budget for the Department of Public Works of its surplus and left the Department “bootstrapped” for the foreseeable future. In light of the road conditions the Parish residents are now facing on a daily basis, would you be willing to say that the Police Jury was being fiscally responsible?
And, were you aware that the Police Jury used your tax dollars to fight the form of government that the Parish residents overwhelmingly voted for? The Home Rule Charter form of government passed on October 22, 2011. The Police Jury refused to put the election of the Parish President and the 5 Council members on the ballot. The case went all the way to the U. S. Department of Justice, which caused the election of the Parish President and the Council members to be delayed an entire year.
The article mentioned above did not discuss people and was only a comparison of two very different forms of government so why is it that Parish employees are now having to worry about being sued for answering questions or for providing information that federal law unequivocally states the public has the right to see?
Prior Audits of the Natchitoches Parish Police Jury:
* Please take the time to read two or three of the “Findings” and “Violations.”
To view the audits in full , follow this link: