Clean Audit

The Town of Newellton’s total net position decreased by $301,250 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, according to a financial report released Monday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and prepared by the Monroe accounting firm of Huffman & Soignier.

“The assets and deferred outflows of the Town of Newellton exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows at the close of the most recent fiscal year by $3,780,582 (net position),” the report notes. “Of this amount, $4,015,768 represented a restriction equal to the net amount invested in land and depreciable assets.

“The remaining $235,186 represents an unrestricted net deficit.”

The report also notes: “As of the close of the current fiscal year, the Town of Newellton's governmental fund reported an ending fund balance of $4,506, a decrease of $25,257 in comparison with the prior year. Of this total amount, ($5,820) is available for spending at the government's discretion (unassigned balance). However, as a deficit, this number represents an amount that must be made up before the Town has a discretionary amount to spend.”

Newellton’s total revenue “decreased from the prior year by approximately $4,000 to approximately $840,000. Approximately 78% of the Town's revenue comes from charges for services, and 22% comes from other general revenues … The total cost of programs and services increased from the prior year by approximately $12,500.”

There were two findings in the report: 

2018-001 Late Submission of Audit Report to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor: “The Town's audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 was not completed within the six month deadline as required by Louisiana Revised Statute … The trial balance was not presented for audit until December 18, 2018.”

The town responded that it “anticipates being in compliance and ready to present any and all financial records needed for the June 30, 2019 reporting.”

2018-002 Violations of Louisiana Local Government Budget Act: “The Town was in violation of the revised state statutes … due to its failure to prepare an original budget. An amended budget was prepared but the Town's actual expenditures of $487,504 exceeded its budgeted expenditures of $460,150 for a $27,354 (5.9%) negative variance which is greater than the 5% variance that is allowed … The new town clerk was not aware of the various revised statutes regarding the budget.”

The town responded:  “We will ensure that the Town Clerk has the necessary information to comply with the requirements of the Louisiana Local Budget Act.”

 

In the governmental fund statement of revenues, expenditures and changes in fund balance, the report shows income of $282,247, including $71,297, ad valorem taxes; $58,181, sales taxes; $69,058, charges for services; $16,833, franchise fees; $44,861, licenses and permits; $7,101, intergovernmental state; $13,925, fines and forfeitures; $30, use of money and property; and $961, other revenues.

Governmental fund expenditures totaled $487,504, including $159,923, general government; $124,620, police; $515, fire; and $202,446, public works.

A deficit of $205,257 was recorded for the 2018 fiscal year. The ending fund balance was $4,506 compared to $29,763 at the beginning of the year.

In the Enterprise Fund statement of revenues, expenses and changes in net position, total operating revenues amounted to $568,836, including $227,714, water sales; $192,663, gas sales; $132,016, sewerage fees; $1,525, plumbing fees; and $14,919, penalties.

Expenditures total $574,344 and included $7,044, bad debts; $2,655, computer consultants; $142,308, deprecation; $4,020, dues and subscriptions; $7,712, engineering; $81,888, gas purchase; $17,608, insurance-general; $16,597, legal and audit; $461, miscellaneous expenses; $8,042, office supplies; $2,348, postage; $140,594, salaries and related benefits; $12,704, supplies-plant; $24,104, supplies and expenses-gas; $3,500, supplies and expense-sewer; $53,001, supplies and expenses-water; $10,871, telephone; $1,496, travel and meetings; and $36,814, utilities.

An operating loss of $5,508 was recorded. The ending fund balance was $3,272,972 compared to the beginning balance of $3,473,261.

The audit also notes that for the year ended June 30, 2018, the town’s total payroll for all employees was $325,558

The report says the following rates are charge:

Water -- residential customers are charged $26 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $4 for each additional 1,000 gallons or fraction thereof. Commercial customers are billed $31 for the first 2,000 gallons used and then $4 for each additional 1,000 gallons or fraction thereof.

Sewer: Residential customers are billed $14.20 for the first 2,000 gallons of water used and $3.34 for each additional 1,000 gallons or fraction thereof. Commercial customers are charged $18.46 for the first 2,000 gallons of water purchased and $3.34 for each additional 1,000 gallons or fraction thereof of water used.

Gas: Rates charged to customers are $13.00 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas used.

The report notes that the towns of Newellton and St. Joseph “entered into a joint venture in 1954, called the Town of Newellton and the Town of St. Joseph, Louisiana Jointly Owned Gas Operations and Maintenance Fund (the Joint Gas Line) to provide natural gas to the two towns for resale to their citizens and approximately fifteen other customers in the service area. Currently, each town is required to purchase gas directly from the supplier and each town is responsible for maintaining the costs of the joint gas line.

“The Boards of Aldermen and the Mayors of the two towns govern the Joint Gas Line but its accounting is handled by the Town of St. Joseph. Each of the Towns own 50% of the net worth of the joint venture.”

The report says that construction “is anticipated to begin in the late spring of 2019 for an upgrade to the Town's water treatment plant through an $800,000 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant. At its January 9, 2019 council meeting, the Town Council approved rate increases for water and sewer that will go into effect on April 1, 2019.”

Mayor Timothy Turner was paid $19,074 during the past fiscal year, including $14,400, salary; $3,564, benefits-retirement contributions; $595, mileage reimbursements; and $515, conference travel and registration fees.

Aldermen Edwin Britt, Ben Britton, Jr., Richard Dunmore, Lavon Garner and Mattie Sampson each received $6,000 in salary the past fiscal year.

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