CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury took additional steps last week to get its financial house in order to avoid criticism in its annual audit.

The jury's fiscal year is the same as the calendar year, and the preliminary 2017 auditing work has already begun.

Auditors gigged the jury in its 2016 audit report for not having an updated road priority list, as required by state law, and failing to amend its budget when revenues or expenses far exceeded the amounts stated in the original spending plans.

At the Nov. 21 meeting, Parish Manager Sonya Crowe, who began work in May, gave some jurors a list of roads in their districts and asked them to rate them for an overall priority list. She said the jury must adopt a priority list for needed road work next month for 2017 and then another soon after that for 2018.

Crowe also asked the jury to create a position of accounting clerk in order for the person hired to take over some of the accounting duties now assigned to jury Secretary Yamesha Harris.

Jurors tentatively voted to approve the position but asked the Finance Committee to look at Crowe's plan to fund it.

Harris needs time to update the jury's book of meeting minutes, Crowe said.

"Yamesha is technically doing two jobs. We need to separate the duties," she added.

Crowe also presented, and jurors approved, a budget amendment for the Coroner's Fund, which had been left at $6,202 for the entire year after jurors and Coroner Michael Cramer could not agree on a realistic budget earlier in the year.

The new budget includes a $98,000 transfer to the revenue side from the jury's General Fund and incorporates other expenses that had been paid from the general fund during the year.

The spending includes $39,000 for autopsy fees, which the jury had not paid since May 2016, Crowe said. The autopsies cost $1,000 each.

She said the jury also will owe Cramer for autopsies conducted from June through the end of this year.

In other action, the jury:

  • Approved a $10,000 payment to OneBeacon Insurance Group, representing the jury's insurance deductible, for the defense of a lawsuit filed against the jury by the People's Workshop, a group headed by George Turner. The suit claims the jury discriminated in providing assistance to parish residents affected by the August 2016 flood. While the suit has not been settled, the insurance company indicated it has budgeted more than $38,000 to defend the jury.
  • Adopted a resolution showing that voters approved a 10-year renewal of a 2.5-mill property tax for the parish's part of the Audubon Regional Library's operations. The measure passed, 1,661 to 911, in the Oct. 17 election.