On the Ballot

BGR throws support behind Jefferson Parish Inspector General millage renewal

By Faimon A. Roberts III

Source: The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

October 13, 2020

The Jefferson Parish Inspector General’s property tax renewal, which is on the ballot Nov. 3, got the thumbs up from an independent nonprofit Tuesday, when the Bureau of Governmental Research announced its endorsement.

The .5-mill, 10-year property tax that is set to expire at the end of this year is the sole funding source for the Inspector Generral’s office. The tax generates about $1.5 million per year for the approximately 10-person office, which is charged with examining “waste, fraud and abuse” in parish government. The IG has no authority to examine the parish’s municipalities, the Jefferson Parish School Board or the Sheriff’s Office.

Voters in unincorporated parts of the parish will vote on the tax.

“The Office of the Inspector General, which receives most of the tax revenue, follows professional standards and practices in conducting audits and investigations,” BGR’s report on the tax says. “These measures support the office’s potential to spur effective improvements in Parish government.”

But BGR also had some advice for Inspector General David McClintock.

The IG “should clearly justify to the Ethics Commission its allocation of resources for each project,” the report says. “This would give the public a better understanding of the staff time spent on each report, allowing them to judge whether the return was worth the effort.”

The report notes that one IG report questioned $120,000 in transition costs incurred by former Parish President Mike Yenni in 2016, but wasn’t released until 2019, two months before Yenni left office.

“According to some observers, the public could better evaluate the benefits brought about by the OIG if it understood the allocation of resources to each project.”

Some complaints were made by parish officials in the aftermath of a widely-publicized 2016 report that criticized former Parish Councilman Paul Johnston for questionably attaining restaurant reward points which can be redeemed for food. The investigation took nearly two years and some officials wondered if the effort put into that report had been worth the end result.

McClintock and his office have also clashed publicly with elected officials, often over access to facilities or personnel, but he has consistently earned plaudits from the parish’s Ethics and Compliance Commission, the independent body appointed to oversee his office.

The IG’s office was formed in 2011 in the wake of the Aaron Broussard scandal and this is the first time the tax has come up for renewal.

BGR is a non-profit, independent research group focused on public policy in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

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