Patterson mayor says overdue changes in the works
Thu, 2013-10-24 15:14 Harlan Kirgan
This mayor and this administration has the job of getting things corrected.
By PRESTON GILL
The city is moving forward with long overdue changes, Mayor Rodney Grogan said Wednesday in a news conference in the council chamber.
Grogan said he gave council members independent audit reports back to 2000 that show many of the problems he is addressing are deficiencies and weaknesses that the city has been cited for countless times.
Gone are the days of common practice and not having things in black and white, he said as he held up a proposed city handbook he has been putting together.
“This mayor and this administration has the job of getting things corrected,” Grogan said.
Grogan has 14 months left in his first term.
Grogan said he did not see the reporting of The Daily Review which revealed deficiencies in the city government as a witch hunt. He said the issues raised by the newspaper needed to be addressed and corrected.
“I see this more as a positive,” Grogan said. It will “allow us to clean up the past.”
Councilman John Rentrop said, “We are trying to catch up and do it in a timely manner. … We will see this through and be a better community.”
Grogan said meeting minutes were published soon after The Daily Review’s reporting made him aware of the city’s unmet legal responsibilities and at the next council meeting he had a monthly financial report prepared for the council. He will meet with department heads in March so a budget can be presented to the council 45 days prior to the June 30 ending of the fiscal year as the charter states, he said.
Grogan addressed the community fair, which according to city documents netted a loss of $26,388 in 2012 and a loss of $19,513 in 2013.
“In March, we will ask the council if it chooses to appropriate funds for the fair,” Grogan said.
Referencing a Tuesday story in The Daily Review citing travel expenditures of other cities, Grogan said he would find it “rather strange” if other communities are not sending their employees for training.
The independent auditor reported Morgan City spent $26,954 in travel and training, which was $3,123 over the budgeted amount in the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012.
Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff said his city spent $1,614 total in training and related travel expenses for the last audited fiscal year.
Patterson spent $141,434 on its combined travel and training, which was $72,955 over the combined budget for the items.
The Daily Review sorted through hundreds of pages of Patterson city records chronicling trips by multiple people to multiple cities, often piecing together information from multiple sources and folders.
Grogan said he is working on making records easier to review and understand, especially in regard to who has traveled where and how much money was spent. Grogan said documents suggesting trips to Texas and North Carolina were misconstrued and should not have been on the list of places traveled. One of the trips had been billed and then reimbursed.
The mayor said he has not used city-issued credit cards for personal lunches in Patterson. He will demand that use of the credit cards are documented.
with receipts showing it was city business, he said.
Grogan said he is generally opposed to overtime. Staff should be able to efficiently use their time so that overtime doesn’t need to be worked, he said.
Overtime is down this fiscal year, he said.
Grogan said the city has embarked on a program of getting employees cross trained and certified, which requires increased training and travel expenditures.
Council members voiced their support of Grogan’s endeavors to make adjustments.
Councilmen Larry Mendoza and Charles Sawyer said the mayor had their support and both described Grogan as a “breath of fresh air.”