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Grand Isle Fire Company accused of questionable spending

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Questionable purchases, unsupported payments, and two separate millage revenue streams are just some of the findings in an Inspector General’s report after an audit of the Grand Isle Volunteer Fire Company.

“Anytime there’s an indication of misappropriation of funds, it deserves to be looked at,” Jefferson Parish COO Keith Conley said.

Conley said the report was issued before the new administration took office, but it raises concern.

“We do agree with the Office of Inspector General that there should be more oversight since you’re dealing with millage money,” Conley said.

According to the report, Grand Isle residents are paying two separate millages, one designated for the fire department and the other for GIVES or the Grand Isle Volunteer Emergency Services. Emergency services, though, are rendered under contract through the Fire Company.

The report states, "GIVES (or EMS) remitted an average of 92 percent of its millage funds to the Fire Company.

“I was waiting to see how the Grand Isle Fire Company would respond. As of this moment, they have not responded, so we will be following up,” Conley said.

The report also showed questionable payments related to food and fuel charges by non-employees. The Fire Company spent $6,500 on hotel rooms in Thibodaux for Hurricane Isaac, but there was no documentation of the individuals staying in those rooms.

Right now, the parish’s Finance Department relies solely on a year-end audit to monitor the Grand Isle Volunteer Fire Company, but the new administration said things will change.

“We are now working to amend all of those agreements, and we will put them before the council for a vote which will include things like monthly expenditure reports, insurance records to make sure no insurance has lapsed, and training records,” Conley said.

The Fire Company says it fully intended to respond to the OIG, but was unaware the report was being released and ran out of time to give a written response. The Assistant Fire Chief pointed out that all of the findings in the report relate to a previous administration.

He also said while the Fire Company doesn’t agree with all the findings in the report, internal changes have been made to address some issues.

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