Coroner takeover moves forward, in light of new audit - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Coroner takeover moves forward, in light of new audit

Updated:
Coroner Peter Galvan Coroner Peter Galvan
Covington, La. -

The president of St. Tammany Parish says she's moving ahead with efforts to take control of the coroner's finances, in spite of a lawsuit challenging that effort. Pat Brister says a new financial report gives good reason why the takeover needs to take place.

"It shows the gaps, lack of reporting and policy and that's what needs to be corrected," said Brister.

Brister says the parish is taking steps to begin receiving the 4 mills a year that are currently dedicated to the coroner.

"It is the law now and until it's proven unconstitutional, we're going forward," said Brister.

Brister says the effort is now more important than ever, after a new financial report done by the CPA firm of Carr, Riggs, and Ingram of Metairie. "This was a spanking in my opinion," said Rick Franzo with the group Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany.

The report outlines a number of problems, including several which were first reported in a series of FOX 8 investigations. They include no consistent vacation or sick leave policy, no limit on vacation or sick pay rollover and no formal policy regarding compensated absences, as of December 31, 2012.

In all,  the audit shows 10 areas of significant deficiency or material weakness, criticizing everything from a lack of control over petty cash to a lack of control over gas credit cards.

The report also shows the Coroner's Office staff bought diesel or premium gas 32 times, spending over $5,700 -- even though the report says the office has no vehicles that use diesel or premium.

"The amount of gas doesn't correlate with the mileage. There's no records on anything," said Franzo.

The auditors wrote, "We observed no controls or policy, over petty cash" - something parish leaders are now moving to correct.

"We have their budget. We have a basis, now we're trying to get further information to see what the law says they need so that they can perform their duties for the rest of the year," said Brister.

The St. Tammany District Attorney recused himself from defending the parish in the Galvan's lawsuit. So the parish hired the Madisonville firm of Daigle, Fisk to do the job.

They are confident they will succeed in the takeover, now that the governor has signed the bill into law.

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