Shreveport councilman asks state to investigate city’s finance department | News
SHREVEPORT, Louisiana — A member of the Shreveport City Council, who asked the state auditor to conduct an investigative audit of the city’s finance department, has been removed from his position as chairman of the audit committee and council finances.
John Nickelson made the request Thursday morning to legislative auditor Michael J. Waguespack.
About 30 minutes later, Nickelson was removed as chairman of the committee by new board chairman James Green. Nickelson held the title for three years.
In a social media post, Nickelson said, “I love Shreveport. I have given 110% to my constituents and our city since I was elected in 2018. But loving Shreveport is not enough. We must we all fight for Shreveport – and we must do everything in our power to ensure that eight smart, capable, and honest people are elected to lead the city in the fall 2022 election. Our future depends on it.
The request to Waguespack comes three days after the former city comptroller alleged possible illegalities in the city’s finances and accounting. Ben Hebert, 85, said he was fired in December after bringing the issues to the attention of his supervisors, including Kasey Brown, who is the acting chief financial officer.
RELATED REPORT: Former Shreveport comptroller alleges ‘financial irregularities’ by city officials
Hebert alleges age and racial discrimination in his firing and said he plans to file a complaint by the end of the week.
In its letter, Nickelson cited Hebert’s termination.
“Last month, the city’s acting chief financial officer unceremoniously fired city comptroller Ben Hebert without notice to all council members. Mr. Hebert, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner , has made a wide range of allegations regarding incompetence and malfeasance in the finance department.These allegations from a former member of the City’s management team are serious and call into question the ability of the department to administer funds They require a full, fair and transparent investigation that only your office can provide.
Nickelson attached to its letter the statement made by Hebert on Monday at a press conference.
Some of the allegations made by Hebert and his attorney, Allison Jones, include:
- The city does not follow established accounting practices.
- The city failed to meet IRS time and state revenue constraints.
- The city often did not pay its credit cards on time.
He also raised questions about Mayor Adrian Perkins’ travels. Hebert said some of the expense reports do not include itemized receipts for expenses, little or no description of the purpose or benefits to the city of the trip, and other irregularities.
Hebert says he refused to participate in what he considered violations of state law. He believes he was also passed over for promotion due to his age and race.
Jones says she will file complaints with the EEOC and the Louisiana Human Rights Commission.
In response to Nickelson’s call for a state auditor’s investigation, Adrian Perkins said in a written statement, “The City of Shreveport undergoes internal and external auditing annually. If the state has the resources to perform an additional audit, we welcome that. I’m always looking for ways to make our finance department stronger.”
The city said that due to ongoing litigation, it could not comment on Hébert’s allegations.