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|Sterlington hires forensic auditor|
The Town of Sterlington will join a host of other municipalities in hiring a forensic auditor to determine if a Monroe tax official stole money from other municipalities such as Sterlington.
Speaking at the Sterlington Board of Aldermen regular meeting Tuesday, Mayor Vern Breland said the move had been recommended by 4th Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones. Jones made the recommendation on the heels of an investigation into activities at the Monroe Department of Taxation and Revenue, which discovered at least $200,000 in thefts from the department.
Breland said Jones made the suggestion at a meeting with area mayors late last week.
"He indicated to us he would like to hire a forensic auditor to go through and find out how much money is owed to each municipality," said Breland.
Monroe Taxation and Revenue director Patrick Onemechara was arrested recently and charged with 17 counts of theft and malfeasance in office as a result of the investigation.
The city of Monroe collects sales tax revenues for a number of area municipalities including the town of Sterlington.
Breland said a forensic auditor would examine financial records, bank documents and other sources of information to determine where missing or stolen money went and if any money is owed to the municipalities.
Sterlington town attorney Brian Racer endorsed the move but said the resolution he presented to the board of aldermen to retain a forensic auditor placed certain limits on the hire.
"The only concern we had in that meeting was making sure we weren't giving anyone a blank check," Racer told aldermen.
Instead, the town will pay a "reasonable pro-rata share" of whatever bill the forensic auditor presents to the various municipalities involved.
On another front, Sterlington aldermen approved the introduction of an ordinance to govern the hiring of personnel.
The ordinance will bring uniform hiring procedures to all area departments.
After some discussions about emergency situations, the ordinance was amended to allow for suspending the rules if aldermen deemed it necessary.
In other business, aldermen unanimously agreed to name The Ouachita Citizen the town's official journal for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1.