Legislative Auditor report finds several issues in England Airpark procedures

Published: Sep. 25, 2018 at 3:47 PM CDT
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The Louisiana Legislative Auditor released a report this week showing the England Economic and Industrial Development District may have violated state law.

The report, that the Legislative Auditor said was “more limited” than an audit, showed deferment of rent payments of $425,000 until 2036 for the Oak Wing Golf Course could “possibly be in violation of Louisiana Constitution Article 7, Section 14.” That particular law prohibits the loan or donation of public funds. The report gave recommendations to the EEIDD including conducting and documenting an economic analysis on its economic impact.

EEIDD Interim Director, Scott Gammel, said they are getting a legal opinion on the deferred payments.

Gammel also said an advisory committee with the Legislative Auditor came in in February and went over procedures.

“This is not an audit,” said Gammel. “It’s a what can we do better.”

The EEIDD also released this statement:

"September 19, 2018 the England Economic and Industrial Development District received an Advisory Services Report as part of the public services provided by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor. February 2018, the advisory service personnel arrived and reviewed previous and current financial operations of England Airpark. The Advisory Report is not an audit but a means to provide assistance to public agencies to improve fiscal operations and provide recommendations for best practices for effective financial management. The England Authority is, and always will be, dedicated to abide by all State and Federal fiscal control laws."

The report also found issue with the EEIDD’s annual crawfish boil and annual holiday event that cost more than $15,000 together. The reported stated, “the district did not provide documentation to demonstrate that these events either currently or previously have resulted in additional economic development commensurate with the amounts spent on the events.” The report said that could be in violation of the state constitution.

In addition, the report found that EEIDD could also be in violation of the state constitution because employees and their spouses are allowed to attend the events free of charge.

The report also found that the EEIDD did not have written policies and procedures over the usage of credit and business card accounts. It also stated the district did not maintain logs for each card to document usage. Also, the report found the EEIDD purchased an airline ticket for the spouse of a board member when the board member traveled to a conference. The report said they reimbursed the district, but that it still may be in violation of state law.

Also, the report found that 16 of the district’s 29 employees did not complete time sheets or certify their hours.