Audit reports finding on local fire department

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The Louisiana Office of the Legislative Auditor released two audit reports on Monday that highlight questionable financial practices at two St. Charles Parish volunteer fire departments.
According to the findings report created by independent certified public account auditor Eriksen Krental and LaPorte, $10,897 of cash receipts “lacked deposit tickets or supporting documentation” at the St. Rose Volunteer Fire District for 2012. Findings at the Luling Volunteer Fire Department revealed that money received for rental income regarding a radio tower had been “inadvertently” deposited into the department’s private account.
The report goes into more detail about the discrepancy, saying that the Luling Volunteer Fire Department had been receiving approximately $437 in monthly rent from a cellular company for the placement of a radio tower on the department’s property, creating an income of approximately $5,245 for the department in 2012. The lease agreement between the two entities stated that beginning 2010 and every year thereafter, the rent would increase 3 percent over the amount that was
in effect the previous year. The initial lease agreement was $400 monthly.
Auditors recommended St. Rose Volunteer Fire District’s board of directors review the filing structure of the department quarterly to be sure records were being retained properly. St. Rose Volunteer Fire District officials reportedly agreed with the assessment.
For Luling Volunteer Fire Department, auditors recommended the agency repay the funds, but members of the department disagree. According to the report, the department does not feel it should have to repay the funds since no government money was spent regarding the tower, which is located on the department’s private property. The members of Luling Volunteer Fire Department said they would consult with their legal counsel. Auditors requested additional time to resolve the problem.