NEW IBERIA – The state of Louisiana is moving to appoint a fiscal administrator for the city of Jeanerette after the city repeatedly failed to submit necessary annual audits and for other financial missteps.
“There is a fiscal administrative law that says if a city does not have financial stability, it can be taken over by an administrator,” Brad Cryer, director of local government for the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office told the Louisiana Record.
Jeanerette, known the Sugar City, is west of New Orleans and has a population of 5,400.
A docket has been filed in the 16th Circuit Judicial District Court in New Iberia calling for a state fiscal administrator to take over the city’s finances after a unanimous vote on Jan. 25 of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Fiscal Review Committee. The Legislative Auditor's Office is a taxpayer-supported state government watchdog agency headed by Daryl G. Purpera with the purpose of ensuring fiscal accountability and local government responsiveness to the needs of people.
The Legislative Auditor’s Committee asked the Attorney General’s Office to file the necessary documents to make the fiscal administrator appointment.
“We report to the Fiscal Review Committee, which is made up of the Attorney General’s Office, the State Treasurer and the Legislative Auditor,” Cryer said.
The city of Jeanerette is required to submit annual audits to the state, and if it fails to do so action is taken. According to a Jan. 25 report from KATC.com, in addition to failing to deliver audits, state officials noted irregularities in the running of the city’s utility system and $118,000 owed to a solid waste contractor.
"The city had not submitted audits for three years and didn't have the necessary paperwork," Cryer said.
The KATC report said one auditor referred to the city’s bookkeeping as a “complete mess.”
Requests for comment from Jeanerette Mayor Aprill Foulcard were not answered.
In a televised KATC 3 interview Jan. 26, Foulcard said she had attempted to fix the situation by bringing in a CPA firm to do the city’s books, but the timeline wasn't sufficient.
The report also said the fiscal administrator will have the power to change the city budget, rearrange city departments, oversee city employees and change job descriptions.
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