Juror says he won’t reimburse convention mileage payment
By PAUL KEDINGER
LSN Staff Writer
“I won’t give the money back,” vowed Juror Alton Stevenson Tuesday night, when confronted during the Finance Committee meeting of the Acadia Parish Police Jury with the fact that he allegedly filed improper mileage trip expenses though he rode with Juror Dale Trahan to a recent convention of the National Association of Counties in Dallas.
Juror Julie Borill, who chairs the committee, pointed out that Stevenson’s lodging bill did not contain any valet parking fees.
Stevenson remained adamant, even though Borill emphasized the reimbursement policies are regulated by the state legislative auditor and legitimate only when applying for personal vehicle expense for business purposes.
Stevenson continued to argue even after Secretary-Treasurer Richard “Dickie” Latiolais cited an email from John Istre, CPA with the auditing firm of Broussard, Poche, Lewis and Breaux.
In response to Latiolais’ inquiry, Lewis said, “Legitimate mileage payments can only be made to individuals who actually used their vehicle for business purpose. A person cannot claim mileage for reimbursement when they rode in another employee/jurors vehicle.”
Borill repeated her request several times to Stevenson to return $432.48, paid at the rate of 51¢ per mile for 848 miles. He was not asked to repay any other legitimate expenses for which he was reimbursed.
She noted, “When you signed it (the reimbursement request), you’re saying you drove.”
She offered a substitute motion to Juror Robert Guidry’s motion to bring the issue to the full Jury. Her suggestion to refer the issue to the legislative auditor and the state Ethics Board, however, failed, bringing the issue to the Jury’s meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
In other Finance Committee action, members agreed to study abandoning the natural gas system owned by the Jury in the Crowley-Rayne Industrial Park, after hearing Latiolais report cost of maintaining the system could range between $12,000 and $15,000 annually, according to an estimate by Louisiana Natural Gas Services. “In a number of years, we will run out of money,” predicted Latiolais.
Jurors discussed notifying industries in the park of a deadline by which they would be required to convert to propane. It was also pointed out natural gas usage in the industrial park was minimal and most businesses there were totally electrical.
Committee members recommended Mader Engineering be authorized to submit an application on behalf of the Jury for state capital outlay funds. Chairwoman Borill noted the Jury did not received any funding last year and that the specific grant requests would finalized later.
The committee also recommended four pieces of parish road department equipment be declared surplus and sold at auction. The equipment included two 2003 New Holland tractors, a Tiger side mower and a 3/4 ton Dodge pickup truck.
The committee also recommended the Jury president be authorized to sign an agreement with Advanced Utility Auditing. Jurors were told the firm, based in Lafayette, “saved Rayne serious money.”
David Hamilton of Advanced Utility Auditing, his firm’s review of utility and telecommunications invoices to ensure all charges are correct, regularly identifies savings, errors and overcharges in over 80 percent of its audits.
The firm will receive 50 percent of all rebates and refunds as a result of its audit efforts.