The Town of St. Joseph had net assets of $9.8 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.

Finances were examined in an audit released Monday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and prepared by the town’s accountant, J. Walker & Company APC of Lake Charles.

Sales tax revenue was $104,461 in 2019 while licenses and permits decreased $11,913 over the amounts reported in 2018.

The year ending balance in the general fund, the chief operating fund, was $366,214, up $40,040 from the $326,174 fund balance reported the year before. Revenues in 2019 decreased from the $510,383 reported in fiscal 2018 to $393,134, a decrease of $117,249 or 23%.

Auditors said the decrease was due a property sale in the prior year. Expenditures were up $6,471 or 2%.

The town is a defendant in various lawsuits, has lost more than $4,000 in grants due to non-compliance and owes $4,030 in penalty and interest to the IRS.

In 2016, a fiscal administrator was appointed by the Legislative Auditor to restore the town’s financial stability.

There were no findings in the 2019 audit.

According to the report,

• The assets and deferred outflows of resources of the Town of Saint Joseph exceeded its liabilities and deferred inflows of resources at the close of the most recent fiscal year by $9,887,872. Of this amount, $91,263 represents unrestricted net position, which may be used to meet the government’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.

“• The Town’s total net position increased $240,811 or 2% mainly because of charges for services revenue. Licenses and permits revenue were slightly higher this year, while utility billings were slightly higher.

“• As of the close of the current fiscal year, the Town's governmental funds reported a combined ending fund balances of $386,369 an increase of $40,040 or 12% in comparison with the prior year. Approximately 95% of this amount or $366,214 was available for spending at the Town's discretion (unassigned fund balance).

“• At the end of the current fiscal year, assigned fund balance for the governmental funds was $20,155, or approximately 6% of total general fund expenditures.”

The audit noted that the “increase in net position for business-type operations for the current year was $226,767 compared to an increase of $2,631,683 in the prior year. Charges for services increased $32,686 while the net loss from the jointly owned gas line decreased $16,635. Capital grants decreased $2,364,253. The increase in charges for services is due to an increase in rates. Capital grants decrease is due to grant funding received for the water system in the prior year when that project was ongoing. Expenses increased $74,912 or 9%.”

St. Joseph and Newellton jointly own a gas pipeline that transports natural gas to the towns.

“The jointly owned line is operated independently of the Towns,” the report noted. “The carrying value of the investment is recorded on the equity method. The annual net income is added to the investment and cash withdrawals, and net losses are deducted from the investment value.”

The joint lines net position is negative $2,333.

The report says St. Joseph “is a defendant in various lawsuits. Management and the Town's legal counsel believe that the probable outcome of these lawsuits will not materially affect the Town's financial position.

“The Town participates in a number of state and federally assisted grant programs … As of June 30, 2019, the Town has a balance of $4,490 for disallowed grant funds that were received in prior years. The State has determined the Town did not comply with grant requirements and is requiring the funds to be returned to the State.

“As of June 30, 2019, the Town has accrued a total of $4,030, for estimated outstanding taxes, penalties and interest payable to the Internal Revenue Service. The Town filed some of its payroll tax returns and paid the tax thereon late. This will result in penalties and interest being charged on these filings and remittances.

“Included in the $4,030 payable to the IRS are penalty and interest charges through June 30, 2019.

Aldermen Theodore Jackson, John Lewis, Jerry Newman, Carl Olds Jr. and Antionette Shields were each paid $1,500 during the past fiscal year.

Mayor Elvadus Fields Jr. was paid $19,831 in compensation, including $18,000 salary; $1,377, Social Security and Medicare; $241, reimbursement for travel; and $213, reimbursement for materials and supplies.

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