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Contributing Writer

Recent financial accounting procedures instituted by the City of Opelousas have received acknowledged praise by an auditor who delivered a report for the budgetary year that ended Aug. 31.

Auditor Casey Ardoin told the Board of Aldermen during a meeting last week that he felt it appropriate to assign an “A” letter grade for the audit that he performed for Kolder, Slaven & Company.

The audit, which was reviewed and accepted by the Board during the March 8 meeting, was considered by Ardoin to be an improvement over previous city audits that were performed by the company since 2019.

“I think this audit (for 2020-21) deserves an “A”, since (his grade) is based on (the city’s) progress with preparing and providing the financial statements that I reviewed,” Ardoin told the Board.

Ardoin also complimented the city on the access given to him by city officials and Financial Director Stephen Woods.

“The documents were ready for me. Everything was provided. The city is making progress and doing a very good job,” Ardoin noted.

Ardoin and Mayor Julius Alsandor said the complete city auditing report will be available for public viewing on the State Legislative Auditor’s website.

A copy of the audit is also available at Opelousas City Hall for review by the public, following a written request procedure, Alsandor said.

As part of his presentation, Ardoin traced the city’s financial improvements with state compliance since 2019.

In 2019 the annual audit indicated the city recorded 23 deficiencies. That number improved to 12 in 2020. The report for 2021 shows four issues of non-compliance, Ardoin said.

The city is now into the seventh month of the current fiscal year and every month Woods told the Board that he provides them, city officials and media that cover the city, with updated financial reports from each of the city’s various departments that are funded by revenue sources.

Compliance Issues

The 2020-21 audit report also indicated the city showed accounting deficiencies in purchasing procedures, timekeeping, accounting balances and the securing of a $301,000 deposit made on Aug. 31, the final day of the budgetary year.

Purchase orders for $300 or more were not always obtained, while the use manual time sheets have continued although the city has an electronic timekeeping system to track hours worked.

The audit found that in some instances, the timesheets have not matched the information contained on the electronic system.

Also the city did not maintain sufficient cash balances in the customer bank account to cover deposit liability.

The failure to always obtain purchase orders for large amounts and the timekeeping issue were raised in the 2020 report.

Ardoin said the recommendations for reconciling the deficiencies should be sufficient for solving the problems that he said were not serious violations.