Auditor: No discrepancies between Rice Arena, police jury financial reports

CROWLEY - A review of revenues and expenses at the Acadia Rice Arena as they compare to records at the Acadia Parish Police Jury show no major discrepancies.
That, generally, is the message delivered to the ARA board of directors by Burton Kolder, CPA, of the firm of Kolder, Champagne, Slaven and Co., LLC.
But board members feel that they are being held hostage by the police jury, claiming that the police jury staff routinely “won’t give us (budget) details or show us how much money is in the Rice Arena account,” said Chairman Greg Richard.
Donna Bertrand, designated parish secretary-treasurer, however, disputes that claim.
“They have every piece of information they have ever asked for,” Bertrand said in a phone interview Friday morning following the ARA board meeting. “The problem is that the board is getting incorrect information from employees at the Rice Arena.”
Bertrand said the parish administrative staff does its best to cooperate fully with the board and did the same when asked by Kolder for records pertaining to the arena.
Kolder verified that during Thursday night’s meeting, saying that every record he sought from the police jury was made readily available.
Concerning requests from the ARA board, Bertrand said, “Sometimes their requests aren’t clear and I have to call Greg (Richard) and ask questions.
“That could make it seem to them like, ‘They don’t want to give us the information because she’s always questioning.’
“I would like to know what information is being held back,” Bertrand added.
The ARA board had hired Kolder’s firm to perform an audit of the past two years’ books after a change-up in board membership and leadership at the beginning of the year.
However, Kolder explained to the board — and to a standing-room-only crowd in the small office in which the board meets — Thursday night (July 20) that the state Legislative Auditor would not allow a full audit because the, as an arm of the police jury, the ARA records had just recently been audited as part of the parish.
“So, what we did was perform a management advisory service solely to assist in evaluating the safeguarding of assets — completeness and accuracy of financial recordkeeping and reporting — for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015,” Kolder explained.
Kolder and his partner and son, Brad Kolder, examined four areas of the budgetary system — revenue, disbursement, adherence to the tax renewal proposition (dated April 4, 2009) supporting the arena, and salaries and wages.
• Revenue: The auditors randomly selected 23 transactions during 2016 and 46 transactions during 2015.
“All receipts agreed with the amount deposited by the police jury and all payments were properly coded to the correct fund and general ledger account,” the elder Kolder said.
He added that, in some instances, there appeared to be “some timing differences” but attributed that to money being turned in to the police jury close to the end of one month and deposited at the beginning of the following month.
Overall for the year 2016, the CPAs found a difference of $1,433 between the Cash Receipts Log and the general ledger, but it reflected that the police jury actually deposited more money into the ARA account than it received from ARA receipts.
For 2015, there was a difference of $277 less deposited into the ARA account than was turned in to the jury.
“I believe that those numbers represent timing issues,” Burton Kolder said.
• Disbursements: Twenty-nine disbursements made during 2016 and 23 made during 2015 and “all payments made were for the proper amount and payable to the correct payee,” Brad Kolder said.
• Adherence to tax proposal: Using records obtained from the tax collection schedule from the Acadia Parish Sheriff for the 2016 tax year, the auditors determined that the ARA received taxes in accordance with the proposition.
“The Acadia Rice Arena received 51 percent of the taxes distributed to the Cooperative and Multi-Purpose Buildings for the 2016 tax year,” Burton Kolder said. “The tax renewal proposition states that at least 40 percent of the taxes received should be distributed to the Rice Arena.”
• Salaries and Wages: It was determined that salaries are being properly paid and recorded.
However, the Kolders recommended that payroll and timesheet procedures of the ARA should be reviewed.
“To ensure proper segregation of duties, employees of the Rice Arena should not approve their own timesheets,” Burton Kolder said. “Timesheets for all employees and periods should be approved by an employee or director who operates in a management procedure.
“Also, all overtime should be monitored so that no one employee is working excessive amounts of overtime,” he continued. All of the employees’ roles and responsibilities should be clearly established and modified, if needed.”
The overtime issue is one that has been addressed by the police jury more than once. In fact, at its July meeting, jurors were informed that the $25,000 budgeted for overtime at the ARA for 2017 had already been expended, just six months into the fiscal year.
An additional $20,000 was added to that line item to cover the remainder of the year.
“Communication appears to be the major problem,” Burton Kolder told the board. “Proper communication should be practiced between the police jury and the Rice Arena board.
“To ensure complete understanding and trust between the entities, communication from members of the both entities should be developed.”
Kolder also said, “Unrestricted access to all financial information and procedures/practices relevant to the Acadia Rice Arena should be given to them by the Acadia Parish Police Jury.
“Monthly or quarterly financial data should be thoroughly reviewed with the Rice Arena management.”
After accepting the report, the ARA board voted unanimously to have Kolder’s firm continue to monitor the arena’s finances and submit quarterly reports.
Burton Kolder estimated that such service would cost the board “between $1,200 and $1,600” quarterly.
The police jury had authorized $11,500 for the audit, but Kolder explained that, since a full audit was not performed, the final bill would come to “about $7,500 or $8,000.”
Board members plan to use the remainder of the $11,500 to cover the cost of the quarterly reports until a budget amendment can be approved.

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