Tuesday, October 1, 2019 … 12:08 pm

Any Shreveport resident who cares even a little bit about our city has until the November 16th bond vote to decide: do we …

… borrow another $186,000,000 for a very long list of projects intended to create the appearance of a healthy economy, or

… defeat the bond issue and stop Mayor Adrian Perkins’ intention to drive the City even more dangerously into debt (and corruption).

Who can or would ignore revelations in the 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) … (finally) released yesterday by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor?

The “kaf-er,” as these reports are broadly called, mainly includes a lot of data and narrative which is consistently repeated every year. Such repetition makes it relatively easy to spotlight certain annual changes in the City’s financial underpinnings.

A good example is this comment seized upon by various local government insiders, thereby included in yesterday’s article by the Shreveport Times …

… “The audit showed Shreveport had an unrestricted net position deficit of $1,054 million at the end of 2018, an increase in the deficit from an $811 million deficit (sic) in 2017.”

No doubt about it: a $1.054 billion deficit for any city Shreveport’s size is a shocker, but an even more shocking picture jumps from a deeper dive into this and earlier CAFRs.

Let’s use the better known measure of the City’s “Outstanding Debt” … the combination of general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, and other lending agreements … and compare it to a bit less than five years ago, when ex-mayor Ollie Tyler took charge.

At the end of 2014, Shreveport had $610.80 million in outstanding debt, and by the end of 2018 our debt total was $921.43 million … a +50.9% debt jump.

Imagine, then, the hole Shreveport – i.e., taxpayers – will be in at the end of this year should Perkins add $186,000,000 in bond debt …

… a five-year jump in the City’s debt of +81.31% … from $610.80 million to $1.10743 billion, regardless that the City is hemorrhaging both jobs and taxpayers, non-stop.

Too, the apparent corruption in these reports is dramatic. I note, for example, on Page 31 of the external auditor’s report, item “2018-022 Material Weakness – Lack of Control of Cash Disbursement Processing,” these paragraphs:

“Condition: An invoice totaling $235,572.60 was copied and entered into the accounting software a second time causing the invoice to be paid twice.”

“Cause: Override of manual and IT controls. The invoice was paid from a copy. The invoice was entered into the accounting software by both department personnel and accounting personnel. The invoice number entered in the accounting software was altered to circumvent the system control preventing duplicate invoices to be entered and to allow entry of the invoice into the system.”

Someone got away with $236,000, it would appear. We cannot find out, though. The City’s infamous policy – “we do not comment on personnel matters” – slams that door.

In any case, while it is certainly true that reading any parts of any CAFR is anything but fun, this one is just the pits.

If there is ever a time to risk supercharging Shreveport City Hall debt and corruption, this isn’t it.

© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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