Mayor responds to allegations CPD bills unpaid
Mayor Tim Monceaux has issued a response to Police Chief Jimmy Broussard’s claims that bills from his department were not being paid in a timely fashion.
In a Friday email to City Attorney Tom Regan, Broussard, who did not include the mayor among copied recipients, claimed that payments to Cox (for telephone and Internet) and Verizon (cell phone service) among others, were past due and those services were in danger of being suspended.
Broussard also claimed that the city credit card had been frozen “because the last payment was in September.”
However, both Regan (Tuesday) and Monceaux explained that the tardiness in paying bills is because of the chief’s failure to follow proper policy and procedure, an issue that has repeatedly been stressed to Chief Broussard.
“We have a purchase order system and approval from all department heads, with final approval from the administration to ensure that all policies and procedures are followed in accordance with the law and to guarantee best spending practices,” Monceaux said.
“This administration, nor the police department nor any department is above the rules and regulations from the legislative auditors’ Agreed Upon Procedures (AUP). I will assure you that this administration will not tolerate excessive spending and will continue to protect the interest of the city’s taxpayers.”
Monceaux also noted that Broussard’s complaint was addressed only to Regan “and a select few.”
“Why Mr. Regan, who does not have anything to do with accounts payable or in getting bills paid?” the mayor asked. “By simply emailing and notifying City Hall of these situations, it would have saved some embarrassment for Chief Broussard’s department.
“The issue was aimed at me so why was I not addressed personally or at least included in these accusation?
“However, Chief Broussard chose this path to rectify this situation. In dealing and responding to these allegations the staff of this administration must stop their day-to-day task. The time it takes is very costly to the city and irresponsible on any department which does not follow policy and procedures.”
Addressing the Cox bill — which Broussard said amounted to $6,600, including $500 in late fees — Monceaux painstakingly detailed the payments for the Police Department account dating back to January, 2020.
According to the mayor, although the Cox bills are received by the police department during the first few days of each month, they are not usually received by the Accounts Payable Clerk until mid-month.
The bills are due on or around the 26th of each month but not paid until the following month, probably due to the timing of city council meetings and the council’s approval to pay bills.
“I have also noted that I have reviewed all bills received and nowhere do I see any late fees,” Monceaux added.
Regarding the Verizon bill, Monceaux explained that an email was received on Jan. 18. The bill was dated Dec. 26, 2020, with no past due balance noted.
Monceaux said that, at no time during the first two years of his administration would he allow Cox or Verizon to close those accounts due to non-payment.
“This administration understands the utmost importance, emergency and needs of these vendors regarding communication,” he said.
Monceaux acknowledged that, indeed, the city credit card issued to Broussard has been canceled — a second time.
The mayor said the bill was not paid because proper paperwork had not been completed and submitted by Broussard.
According to Monceaux, the city’s Accounts Payable Clerk, on Nov. 4, 2020, requested paperwork on charges that appeared on the statement.
The next day, the chief said he would have his secretary “check into the charges.”
The clerk again requested paperwork on Dec. 1, 2020, to which Broussard reportedly responded that “the company had not sent an invoice” and he did not know what the charge was regarding.
Two days later, Broussard reportedly said he was filing a fraud charge.
The bill, including the disputed charge, was ultimately paid on Jan. 13 “against the AP Clerk’s judgment,” Monceaux stated.
“We have already caught non-city charges previously and documentation turned in in the past has had issues,” Monceaux said in explaining the clerk’s hesitancy in paying the bill without documentation.
“This administration removed the credit card at one time, on the recommendation of our auditors, due to not following policy and procedures,” Monceaux said. “After much contemplation, I returned his card, asking Chief Broussard to please follow policy and procedures.
“I further warned him I would have no choice but to have it removed permanently if he failed to do so.”
The mayor said the city’s credit rating and credit limit have already been lowered due to past actions.
“Therefore, it leaves me no choice (but) to cancel the credit card. Again, I will remind everyone that we have a purchase order system that works and has worked for many years.”
Problems with two local vendors were also mentioned in Broussard’s letter. Both of those, according to Monceaux, could be attributed again to the chief’s failure to follow city policies and procedures, which the mayor said, “clearly ... confuses vendors and affects our credit rating.”
Broussard’s letter appears to stem from a meeting he had with Monceaux and Regan concerning the city’s fuel policy.
“In response to the chief’s email, the fuel situation is one of the reasons we are where we are today,” Monceaux said. “In the past there have been numerous notifications by email making (Broussard) aware this policy was not being adhered to.
“The importance of following the fuel policy is saving tax dollars that are being spent and other checks and balances along with protective measures.”
The mayor thanked the chief “for agreeing to abide by the fuel policy moving forward.”
In closing, Monceaux admitted that he could not stop officials from making “allegations to create a political agenda or to humiliate.”
However, “Requiring anyone who is employed by the City of Crowley to follow policies and procedures (put in place) to protect the interest of our tax dollars and our taxpaying citizens from wasteful spending will be enforced.
“I just want to make it perfectly clear that this administration or any department is not in any way directing the chief of police on how to run his department. However we will continue to work very hard in directing and assisting each department of the City of Crowley on policies and procedures.”