Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal received a positive financial report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. The financial statements indicate that the Sheriff’s Office had excess revenues over expenses of $618.925.67 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015. The financials will now be audited for submission to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office. The independent audit is scheduled to begin the day after Labor Day, which shows a significant improvement in financial reporting systems.
Sheriff Seal stated, “While I would like to be spending these excess funds on operational issues, my first obligation to the citizens of this parish is to put the Office back on a strong financial footing by paying off the debt I inherited from the previous administration. For that reason, the entirety of the surplus has been utilized to help pay down that debt. We will continue to be frugal with our expenditures so that we can eventually eliminate the entire debt and then be free to do more for the good citizens of Washington Parish. In spite of financial difficulties, we have placed a major emphasis on fighting drugs and other crimes and we will continue to do so.”
The financial report indicates a significant turnaround in Sheriff’s Office finances since July 1, 2012, when Sheriff Seal took office. At that time, he inherited a deficit budget which included a one million dollar FEMA debt, an IRS penalty of more than $400,000 due to the previous administration failing to properly submit employee payroll taxes, and potential repayment of grant funds due to previous grant mismanagement. Sheriff Seal had to borrow $1.5 million dollars the first day in office in order to meet payroll, pay outstanding obligations accumulated by the previous administration, and operate the office until he could get systems in place and balance his budget. When Sheriff Seal took office, the debt bore an interest rate of 6%. Sheriff Seal was able to negotiate that rate down to 1.5% by knowing that banks do not have to pay income taxes on the interest received from governmental units if the debt is properly structured. This 4.5% annual rate reduction is saving the Sheriff’s Office thousands of dollars annually.
In addition to inherited financial problems, Sheriff Seal also had to deal with the reality that the previous administration had sold most of the vehicle fleet, boats and the command center. Starting with practically no resources, he called on his law enforcement friends throughout the state who donated vehicles to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office. As a result, he has had to purchase no new vehicles during the first three years of his term.
“I am so pleased to receive this positive financial report,” stated Sheriff Seal. “I inherited a Sheriff’s Office that was financially destitute, but we rolled up our sleeves, went to work, made budget adjustments where necessary and turned the finances around. We instituted internal financial controls and managed the Sheriff’s Office as a business. Our staff has done an outstanding job and I cannot thank them enough. I am anxious to eliminate this inherited debt so that the Sheriff’s Office can do more for our citizens.”