The District Attorney’s Office for the 21st Judicial District continues to struggle with inadequate funding from the parish governments but managed to stabilize its deficit in 2014, according to an independent auditor’s report.
The District Attorney’s Office, which serves Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes, had expenditures just over $3.1 million in 2014, down from nearly $3.3 million in 2013, according to the report from Durnin & James.
The bulk of the cost savings came through attrition, as District Attorney Scott Perrilloux chose not to replace employees who resigned during the year.
The decision helped stabilize the office’s general fund, which had ended 2013 with a negative fund balance of $174,130. The fund deficit was reduced to $113,458 at the end of 2014.
“Livingston (Parish) also added some extra funds, and that helped,” Perrilloux said.
Despite the increase, funding from the judicial district’s three parish governments, which is mandated by state law, continues to be inadequate to fully support the district attorney’s operations.
“The three parish governments have worked well with me over the years,” Perrilloux said. “But I think if you look at DAs around the state, you’d find that some are flush with cash and others, like us, are just breaking even.”
Perrilloux said 2014 was certainly a less stressful fiscal year than 2013, “but at the end of the month, like any other business, I still have to make payroll and pay the bills.”
Some District Attorney’s offices have created law enforcement districts that have passed millages to fund their offices, Perrilloux said. That is not the case for the 21st Judicial District, which must rely on parish government funding for the bulk of its operational costs.
“If the parishes don’t provide it, I have to get it from fines and forfeitures and things of that nature that are pretty unpredictable,” he said.
The district attorney’s negative general fund balance triggered an audit finding for 2014, as it had for 2013. The Louisiana Local Government Budget Act prohibits governmental entities from budgeting expenditures exceeding the funds available.
The office also received a repeated auditors’ finding because of a prior transfer of funds from the district attorney’s asset forfeiture trust fund to the general fund. The $185,000 transfer, which was used to prop up the general fund in 2012, must be repaid, auditors said.
Perrilloux transferred $20,000 back to the asset forfeiture trust fund in 2014 and pledged to make reimbursement of the rest a priority over the next two fiscal years.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.