The Village of Clayton’s regular monthly meeting ended abruptly Tuesday night during a loud argument between the mayor and chief of police.
The words between Mayor Josephine Washington and Police Chief Bobby Madison were strong as they shouted and made accusations.
Tempers had reached a boiling point between the two while reviewing Clayton’s fiscal budget. The town is presently mired in debt and unable to pay some of its bills.
If the budget is passed, Clayton’s police department will be reduced to only one officer – Madison.
“I’m not going to let a certified officer go,” Madison said. “But if the board says to release him then we will have to let him go.”
The argument had turned into a screaming match as Washington told Madison his department did not generate any revenue, a contentious point between the two.
“We can’t work people if we can’t pay them,” Washington said. “Your police department doesn’t generate enough money to maintain an additional police officer.”
As the shouts became louder and more heated, Alderwoman Shannon Madison, wife to the police chief, made a motion to end the meeting after repeatedly advising her husband to quiet down. Alderman Wilbert Washington seconded the motion. The argument between the two continued for several minutes after the meeting ended.
With one police officer, Clayton’s proposed fiscal budget for the 2019 fiscal year is showing a $5,901 deficient.
In a 30-minute public hearing held before the regular meeting, aldermen looked over the budget in hopes of finding a way to cut expenses. No action was taken on the proposed fiscal budget during the regular meeting.
“I was advised by a legislative auditor that we lawfully can’t approve a budget with expenditures more than revenues,” Washington said.
Jeri Sue Tosspon, CPA, LLC of Ferriday prepared the proposed budget.
“Management has elected to omit the summary of significant assumptions and accounting policies required under established guidelines for presentation of prospective financial statements,” Tosspon said in her opening letter to Clayton. “If the omitted summary was included in the budgeted information, it might influence the user’s conclusion about the Town of Clayton – General Funds’ financial position, results of operations and budget revenues and expenses. Accordingly, the accompanying presentation is not designed for those who are not informed about such matters.”
Meanwhile, a group of residents attending the meeting aired concerns over Clayton’s deteriorating infrastructure.
A particular matter of concern is Clayton’s inadequate sewer drainage especially in the Loomis Street area. Residents complained of having sewage backed up in their yards and ditches after a rain.
“I’ve been down Loomis Street after it rains,” Madison said. “You can actually smell the sewerage.”
Key to the problem is the lack of adequate operational sewer pumps in Clayton. Each pumping station is designed to have two sewer pumps, but the majority of stations only have one working pump.
Another topic brought before the aldermen was the proposal to amend Clayton’s grass ordinance. Residents questioned aldermen on how they could enforce the amended ordinance while Clayton’s park was unkempt and overgrown. Residents complained that neighbors of the park were experiencing “rat problems” because of the area’s high grass.
“Both of Clayton’s tractors are down,” Mayor Washington said. “We are currently looking for volunteers to mow the park.”
Alderman Wilbert Washington told the residents their goal was to have severely overgrown lots cleaned.
“We are talking about lots so overgrown you can’t see past them,” Alderman Washington said. “We are going to start enforcing (the ordinance) to improve our town. Nobody is going to be exempt. We all have to come together.”
In other business, aldermen approved an occupation license to R and R Services. The company offers tree cutting, bush hogging and general clean up to its customers.