Iteam: Audit reveals flaws inside Port Allen City Hall - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Iteam: Audit reveals flaws inside Port Allen City Hall

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PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) -

An independent auditor released their findings Monday on the happenings inside City Hall in Port Allen.  

A 99-page report details the past fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013.

Deedy Slaughter was the mayor for the second half of that fiscal year coming into office in early January.  She was recalled in November.

State legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera said every city and town has an annual audit that's required by law.  Monday's report is a follow-up to the audit Purpera's office released last year. 

When it comes to finances, it said utility accounts were not monitored adequately, late fees were not collected consistently and the mayor's salary and car allowance exceeded the amount the council had in the budget.

"You can't spend funds that aren't budgeted.  The court came back later and said that if they're going to pay the mayor the increased salary, then the town council had to go back and amend the budget and put it in the budget.  That wasn't done.  They didn't amend the budget and so therefore, they exceeded their budget as they paid the mayor the higher salary," said Purpera.

After a court hearing last year, Slaughter was ordered to pay back the excess car allowance.  

"On June 24, 2013, I paid $2,500 in escrow to the City of Port Allen for the trip to Washington D.C. pending a legal decision on the trip.  On July 2, 2013, Judge Batiste denied the City Councilmen request in their lawsuit that I repay the city for the trip. The city owes me the $2,500 minus the $600 for the car allowance before the budget was amended for the Car allowance," said Slaughter.

Auditors also cited the city for not passing an annual budget before the required time.  It was seven months late when it finally passed.  

The findings also say the mayor hired personnel without following required procedures, something that could open the city up to lawsuits.  

"The Port Allen Council has traditionally approved all employees hired by the city. This process, however, is not in compliance with Louisiana Revised Statute 33:404 of the Lawrason Act, which authorizes the Mayor to appoint all employees," said Slaughter.  "The Port Allen ordinance concerning the employment procedures were followed including the advertisement in the official journal, the nondiscrimination and the presentation to the city council. The only difference from  appointments made by previous mayors was that the City Council was notified by the Mayor of the employees to be hired in accordance with the state law rather than requesting the approval of the City Council, which would limit the authority granted by the Lawrason Act."

Auditors noticed several bills from law firms for representing the former mayor in civil court, some of which were paid by the City of Port Allen.  Last year in court, a judge prohibited the mayor from using city funds to pay for lawyers unless the council approved.

Last August, when the I-team asked Slaughter if she was violating the judge's ruling, she said, "Not to my knowledge."

On Monday, Slaughter said, "The only legal fees paid by me as Mayor was the legal fees for the city attorney Victor Woods and a payment to Attorney Ron Johnson before the July 2. 2013 hearing.  The Judge did not rule that attorney fees could not be paid. He ruled that any payments had to comply with RS 33:386 (C). The City Attorney was representing me in the first legal hearing. After some of the council members complained that he may be potentially conflicted between the council and the mayor , the city attorney was obligated to
hire legal representation to cover the mayor in her official capacity. I did not pay any attorneys after the date of his ruling nor did I exceed the budget for legal fees."

For a link to the report, click here: http://bit.ly/1gcLDyr.

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