Audit casts shadow over Opelousas City Hall

by Walter Pierce

Finds mayor accepted overtime pay exceeding council-set salary limit, can’t account for public money issued to him, improper payments to city legal team and more.

Opelousas Mayor Reginald Tatum

A Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report made public Monday is casting a shadow over Opelousas City Hall with a host of financial improprieties under Mayor Reggie Tatum.

Among its findings, the audit reveals that Tatum received nearly $13,000 in overtime pay after performing work at a local shelter during a three-week period last summer. The overtime pay boosted his salary beyond the salary set by the Opelousas City Council “and may violate state law,” according to the audit.

The audit also found that Tatum was unable to account for how $1,234 of a $3,005 check issued to him by the city was spent, “nor could he recall how he spent the money. Since he could not provide receipts or recall how he spent the money, Mayor Tatum could not demonstrate that the $1,234 was used for public purposes.”

The city also made payments to its legal team, the audit finds, totalling nearly $152,000 during a four-year period, January 2013 through December 2016, yet one of the attorneys did not have a contract and two other attorneys were paid before they performed work for the city, and that work was never documented in an invoice.

Finally, the audit found that the Opelousas Police Department may have violated state law in the manner in which it documented and disposed of traffic citations.

Read the full audit here.