SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins says he will reimburse the city for all expenses that a legislative audit released Monday shows may have violated travel and procurement policies and procedures.
The investigative audit into the City of Shreveport’s operations was released early Monday morning, and it comes months after former Shreveport Controller Ben Herbert alleged improprieties with the city’s accounting practices, as well as Mayor Adrian Perkins’ travel expenses.
According to a statement released late Monday morning by the mayor’s office, “the City of Shreveport has taken (and will take) the following steps to better improve the implementation of
- The City of Shreveport has contracted with the Government Finance Officers Association to update purchasing policies to make sure that all city departments are compliant.
- Training sessions will be required to ensure that the persons responsible for filling out and submitting travel forms in every city department are knowledgeable of City policy and the Code of Government Ethics.
- A streamlined system that tracks and verifies when travel/purchasing documents are submitted will be created.
“It is my responsibility as Mayor to advocate on behalf of the City,” Perkins said in the statement. “Pursuing partnerships with companies, organizations, and agencies that can provide significant investments through job creation, capital investments, and infrastructure improvements have remained a top priority. Seeking those opportunities for Shreveport require traveling outside of the state to build relationships critical for the growth of our city.”
The statement says the city undergoes audits annually and welcomed the execution of the Louisiana Legislative Audit.
“The auditor’s recommendations will be beneficial as the City reinforces current policies and implements new ones.
We are committed to strengthening city operations and proactively identifying opportunities to enhance the financial integrity of city government,” said Perkins. “We have aggressively put procedures in place to improve internal controls aimed at achieving fiscally responsible practices in all our city departments.”
The statement also addresses how Perkins’ administration handled the search for a new insurance broker after he took office in 2018 and acknowledges there was no “request for proposals” process used at that time. But it says an internal audit showed no RFPs had taken place since 2006 and that even before that internal audit confirmed that fact, an RFP was issued in 2019 to solicit municipal insurance and every year since that time.
Below are the results of the audit conducted by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
The audit did not reveal anything criminal. What it did reveal were practices that did not comply with the city charter or city policy in purchasing the city’s insurance policy. It also revealed 16 trips by the mayor that included expenses that may have violated the City of Shreveport travel policy, according to the auditor.
The detailed report’s results came after countless interviews with employees and officials of the City of Shreveport and examining select documents and receipts of travel transactions.
According to the audit, when the city changed the agent of record on the city’s workers’ compensation insurance policy in late 2018, the city was in violation of the city charter because the coverage amount was not approved by the city council. The audit also says no request for proposal was submitted, as required by the city’s purchasing policy.
The audit details all travel by Mayor Adrian Perkins from January 2019 until December 2020.
Perkins took 23 trips with $35,845 in expenses submitted back to the city.
16 of the trips included expenses that the auditor says may have violated city travel policy.
Expenses totaling $26,547 were filed beyond the 30-day deadline to file expense reports.
The expense reports included reimbursement for 10 missing receipts, six business meals where the records did not show who attended the meal or the business purpose of the event, and seven lodging charges where the total cost exceeded the daily hotel allowance.
Also catching the eye of the auditor $2,899 in Mayor Perkins’ travel records that occurred on the weekends.
The auditor says these travel expenses did not include an itinerary indicating these events were work-related. The expenses included lodging, meals, transportation, fuel, and parking.
That included extended weekend travel, like a trip to Miami last June to learn about the use of cryptocurrency from the mayor of Miami.
It also included an extended weekend in Los Angeles to recruit businesses to develop in Louisiana. The trip happened the same weekend that the LSU Tigers were playing UCLA at the Rose Bowl.
Another trip back to the west coast just two weeks later, this time to San Francisco, was for a conference on learning to build digital resilience.
The mayor did not travel from January 26, 2020, to April 22, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The audit was sparked by Herbert’s claims of auditing improprieties he says he made to the city’s current Chief Financial Officer, Kasey Brown.
Herbert is a lifelong accountant and a former fraud investigator for the city’s Internal Audit Office. Herbert said he found major issues within the City of Shreveport’s accounting department when he assumed the Controller position in January 2020.
Herbert says he was fired after he brought many of the same issues found in the legislative audit to Brown’s attention.
Herbert’s attorney, Allison Jones, says age and race discrimination claims have been filed with the Equal Employment Commission along with whistleblower claims with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.
Mayor Perkins viewed the audit two weeks ago and issued a response which is included in the audit.
He acknowledges he’s repaid the city $681 for some of the policy violations in 2019 and 2020 but has not reimbursed the city for the possible policy violations in 2021.
He says the city has also instituted training to ensure travel reimbursement forms are filled out correctly.