Clayton Mayor Josephine Washington told aldermen Tuesday that the Louisiana State Bond Commission has denied a request that would have allowed the town to refinance its debt to Concordia Bank & Trust Company.
The town owes the bank approximately $250,000 and has defaulted on the loan.
The proposal rejected by the bond commission was to refinance the loan at a 2.5 percent interest rate for five years, the mayor said.
This news comes on the heels of an announcement in January that the appointment of a fiscal administrator for the town would be delayed for the time being while the mayor also says the town doesn’t have the funds to improve its infrastructure.
Washington said Tuesday that she was told Clayton had been removed from the Bond Commission’s agenda for its March meeting and officials gave no reason for the removal or the proposal denial.
“So we are back to square one?” asked Council Member Willie Evans.
“I’m afraid so,” answered Washington.
“We need to take initiative and talk to someone (at the Bond Commission),” said Alderman Wilbert Washington. “We need to know how we are going to proceed because we are doing the best we can to pay this loan back.”
In January, Bradley Cryer, Director of Local Government Audit Services, told the Fiscal Review Committee, chaired by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, that timing was to blame for the delay in appointing a fiscal administrator.
“We are caught between legislative sessions, and we have no way to appropriate the funds at the moment,” Cryer said at the time. “But, we are looking at what alternatives there may be, so we don’t have to wait until July and be in worse shape than we are today.”
In his report to the Fiscal Committee, Cryer acknowledged there were options to repair Clayton’s infrastructure but “until a fiscal administrator is in place, the repairs are on hold.”
In other business at the Clayton meeting Tuesday, Police Chief Bobby Madison, aldermen and Washington were involved in a lengthy, sometimes heated discussion about the hiring of Oliver Robinson as a village police officer.
Robinson, who has worked for Clayton in the utility department for a year, is not Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) certified.
Due to the legality of not being POST certified, Madison would not recommend the hiring of Robinson to the board.
“Nothing against Oliver, but he has worked for Clayton for one calendar year, and he has got to go to the police academy,” Madison said. “If he has to pull his gun, his action will be on the board and the mayor, not on me because I did not give the recommendation (to hire Robinson.)”
Aldermen tabled the possible hiring of Robinson until he obtains his POST certification.
On another police department matter, aldermen agreed to purchase a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe from the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office for $1,000.
Madison was involved in a wreck on Feb. 8 while driving his patrol vehicle. The wreck totaled the patrol vehicle, and the Village of Clayton received $13,800 from the insurance claim.
Madison said the police department was entitled to receive some of the money to purchase a new patrol vehicle because his department paid a portion of the vehicle’s insurance.
According to Washington, Silas Simmons, LLP of Natchez was paid $10,000 and the remainder was used to pay interest on the Concordia Bank & Trust Company debt.
“We should have come together as a board to discuss how best to spend that money,” Evans said.
Later in the meeting, a motion was passed to notify all board members on what bills were being paid and to once again receive a monthly financial report. The motion was made by Alderman Shannon Madison and seconded by Alderman Floyd Barber.
Meanwhile, Washington announced Clayton received a $15,560 LGAP grant. Monies will be used to refurbish the levee around the oxidation pond.
On another front, aldermen agreed to declare a list of equipment surplus and to advertise for bids on the sale of the equipment. Proceeds from the sale will go to pay Clayton’s indebtedness.
While creating the list, it was discovered a zero turn John Deere lawnmower belonging to Clayton was missing.