Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes, which correspond to counties in most other states. Parish governing authorities are set up under either a police jury or a home rule charter form of government.
Parishes set up under a police jury form of government are governed by the police jury. Parishes set up under a home rule charter have either a council-president, commission, consolidated, or city-parish type of governing board. Police juries and home rule charter governing boards are comparable to county boards of commissioners in other states.
Parish governing authorities are considered to be local auditees, and are required to provide an annual financial report to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
The parish governing authority is only one part of the total parish governmental structure. Many functions are vested in other independently elected officials such as the assessor, coroner, clerk of court, district attorney, and sheriff.
Louisiana Revised Statute (R.S.) 33:1236 establishes the functions and powers of parish governing authorities, and authorizes them to provide for road and bridge construction and maintenance, drainage, sewerage, solid waste disposal, fire protection, parks and recreation, parish prison construction and maintenance, road lighting and marking, waterworks, health units and hospitals within the parish.
Parish governments also maintain the physical offices of the district court, assessor, coroner, clerk of court, registrar of voters, district attorney and sheriff; and promote economic development and tourism, regulate various business activities, and administer numerous state and federal programs on the parish level.
Parish governing authorities often create special service districts and quasi-public organizations to facilitate certain public services. These entities are subject to the oversight of the parish governing authority, and may be determined to be component units of the parish government. In addition, the parish government may join with other governmental agencies to create joint ventures that provide services within several governmental jurisdictions.
Parish governing authorities are charged with the maintenance of parish roads and bridges, and the administration of funds provided by the state through the Parish Transportation Act (PTA). PTA monies may be used to: (1) regulate the proportion and direction of construction and repairing roads, bridges, causeways, dikes, dams, levees, and highways to better the parish road system; (2) purchase equipment for this work; (3) assist in the cost of public transit, and (4) when requested by a municipality, perform all or part of the maintenance of municipal roads and streets. In providing this funding, R.S. 48:755 and 758 imposes the following requirements on the parish government:
- A. Approval of the governing authority for any expenditures of PTA funds
B. The development of a capital improvement program on a selective basis
C. Centralized purchasing of equipment and supplies
D. Centralized accounting
E. Development of a selective maintenance program
F. Development of a construction program based on engineering plans and specifications.
G. Annual certification of compliance to the Legislative Auditor
The Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire requires parish governing authorities to provide statements or representations to their auditor that they have complied with certain provisions of the PTA and other provisions of law. Auditors are required to test the parish government’s compliance with these laws.
The Legislative Auditor's website has a frequently asked questions document about the Parish Transportation Act.