The Parish closed all but three of its funds without deficits according to an audit of the Natchitoches Parish Government for the 2015 fiscal year.
The three deficits are non-events and include:
- The Public Safety fund, part of which is the debt owed to the Sheriff’s Department for inmate housing. This has been on the books for 5-6 years and the Parish has paid $5,000 every month on the debt, paying off over $200,000 in the last 42 months. Parish President Rick Nowlin says he plans to continue on this path, and hopes to accelerate payments in the future.
- The Coroner’s fund, which was simply a timing issue where money wasn’t transferred to cover a January payment for December.
- The Head Start Fund, which was a nominal amount of $48 from several years ago. This isn’t a current deficit.
The auditor cited the Parish for a finding directly related to the theft of $6,000 by an employee in the Parish Treasurer’s office. The Parish has implemented new procedures to ensure that the fraud or misappropriation does not occur in the future. According to Treasurer Debbie Miley, they have changed how they balance the two funds that receive cash. They’re performing a different type of balancing to close in the gaps, requiring more information and making two people sign off on everything. There are at least three people involved with every transaction now.
Nowlin is also preparing to pass the tax that will be on the ballot this fall. Voters have shot this road tax down for the past 18-19 years and the Parish Government has done the best it can under the ensuing financial restraints.
Nowlin said he thinks the voters are ready to pass this kind of tax now. They understand the magnitude of the problem. While no one wants a tax, even Nowlin who says he’s usually an anti-tax person, the money for the roads doesn’t go far enough.
“We can keep putting band aids on the roads,” he said. “But we need to be more aggressive. We need to develop a major road repair program.”
He will start scheduling meetings across the Parish to educate the public on the tax. He’s also working on updating the Parish website so people will be able to see the money going into the road program.
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