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|Police jury and the people's money|
For the third consecutive year, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury received a clean audit of the parish governing body's financial records.
Conducted by the Monroe accounting firm Luffey, Huffman, Ragsdale & Soignier, the audit of the police jury's finances for its 2007 fiscal year yielded no findings. In accounting circles, that means the police jury received an unqualified opinion of its audit. By definition, an unqualified opinion means the police jury "followed all accounting rules appropriately and financial reports are an accurate representation of the companies (governing body) financial condition."
Luffey, Huffman's audit said the police jury's net assets at the end of the 2007 fiscal year totaled some $128.7 million. In other words, at the end of 2007 the police jury's assets exceeded its liabilities by $128.7 million. It should be noted that was a $15.7-million increase in net assets over the previous fiscal year.
Roughly $62.5 million of the $128.7 million in net assets was invested in capital assets such as land, buildings, infrastructure, machinery and equipment.
It is worth pointing out as well that the police jury's fund balances at the end of the 2007 fiscal year topped $63 million, or an $11.4-million increase over the previous fiscal year. Some 93 percent, or $58.9 million, of the $63 million was unreserved funds, meaning those monies were available for use by the police jury at its discretion.
While the aforementioned figures appear impressive on paper, the money the police jury has at its disposal to provide services for a parish of some 150,000 residents is not a great deal of money. It could be argued within reason that the police jury is woefully underfunded, but that is another issue to entertain on another day.
Yet, it was not too long ago the police jury was embroiled in a scandal that sent a host of folks to testify before a parish grand jury. Police jury officials were indicted on charges of malfeasance in office and misappropriation of parish funds, among other allegations of wrongdoing; two of them were convicted.
As far as we know, the shenanigans that occurred at the police jury a few years ago are a thing of the past, so to speak. The bad apples are no longer around.
That's refreshing, for not only had we lost all faith in the police jury's ability to manage its affairs properly, so had the public in general.
While it was good news a respected accounting firm such as Luffey, Huffman gave the police jury a thumbs up in its handling of the parish's money, or the taxpayers' money, we encourage the police jury to continue managing its resources in a prudent and sound manner.
We recognize the achievements the police jury has accomplished in rebuilding it credibility, including its ability to spend the people's money wisely.
The public should recognize it, too.