CONVENT — St. James Parish government received a positive audit report for the 2014 fiscal year, a financial expert told the Parish Council on Wednesday.
Michael LeBlanc, a certified public accountant with Postlethwaite & Netterville, said the audit is “an extremely good report for St. James Parish.”
The audit, covering the fiscal year that ran from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2014, shows the parish was in good financial condition for that year.
Also helping the bottom line was parish property tax revenue that increased 1.2 percent to $16.9 million from the previous year. Sales and use tax revenues decreased 5.3 percent, which LeBlanc called “expected” after the recent plateau in construction over the past five years.
LeBlanc said the audit had one small finding — the use of parish funds to pay for the meals of parish employees’ spouses at conventions. The action was a violation of state law even though the funds had been repaid, LeBlanc said.
In other business, the Parish Council honored parish Operations Director Jody Chenier, who will retire July 11 after more than 30 years of service to the parish under three parish president administrations.
Chenier began his career as a parish engineer and rose to the position of operations director in 1993, Parish President Timmy Roussel said.
Roussel called Chenier a focused, dedicated and loyal employee who built a reputation for versatility because “he wore the hats of four people.”
Chenier said he is most proud of the parish’s reputation across the state for always taking care of business.
“Change is only as strong as the weakest link, and I made sure I wasn’t the weakest link,” he said.
The Parish Council also passed a resolution approving Assistant Operations Director Blaise Gravois as Chenier’s replacement.
The parish Operations Department oversees the daily operation and maintenance of, among other things, roads, bridges, and gas and water systems.