News of an outside audit of Shreveport's water and sewer department has brought the troubled agency back into the spotlight and made it a topic in the city's mayoral race.

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler's staff says an audit prompted by the city's recurring water and sewer billing problems has been underway for months.

City council members say that's news to them. One asserts that the mayor has deliberately sought to keep the council in the dark.

Difficulties in the city water department became public in October 2016 with the disclosure that it had underbilled some water users by more than $1 million collectively. More mistakes, and multiple lawsuits, followed.

A contract for the water department audit was signed March 6, 2018, between the city and Carr, Riggs and Ingram, a regional accounting firm with an office in Shreveport, according to the contract.

Meanwhile, KEEL has reached out to each of the seven city council members regarding what they knew. In a KEEL interview, Councilman Michael Corbin said, "In a word, no. To me it's about communication and I think that (members) should have known the administration was moving forward with the audit."

From Council Chairman Jerry Bowman: "It seems as if I remember something being mentioned about an RFP (Request for Proposals) being put out, if need be, but after (Tyler) making the statement at Southwood High, 'If nothing has been done wrong, why do an audit?', then, at that time, I was under the assumption of no."

Oliver Jenkins: "I was aware that the city had issued an RFP, but not that it had been awarded."

Stephanie Lynch: "Generally, but not specifically. The last update I received was that an RFP was being written to make sure it achieved its intended purpose. But, no, they did not advise the council it was in progress or who had been chosen."

Jeff Everson: I thought so. It now seems confusing with everyone hashing out what was said and when, but I did think there was an ongoing external audit of the Water Department. There were some internal audits, too. After going to several local forums, I'm starting to think no one pays attention to the audits we already do, but everyone says they want audits. It's all a little confusing."

Council members James Flurry and Willie Bradford also informed KEEL that they were unaware.

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