Clayton aldermen sounded their concerns Tuesday on Mayor Josephine Washington’s spending habits using public funds.
Washington and mayor pro-tem Floyd Barber were not present at the November regular meeting. In their absence, Alderman Wilbur Washington presided after a vote to confirm his temporary position.
Two issues were a source of contention with aldermen at Tuesday’s meeting concerning the mayor – hiring the Town of Ferriday to mow Clayton’s Municipal Park and the spending of town money without the council’s authorization.
Aldermen Willie Evans had previously criticized the mayor about these issues. He noted in recent months that Washington “went behind our backs” to purchase a portable generator and pressure washer totaling $8,000 and authorized the Town of Ferriday to mow Clayton’s Municipal Park for $500 without seeking aldermen approval
“(The park mowing) was not a decision for the mayor to make,” Evans said. “We already went through the proper procedure.”
In a previous meeting, aldermen agreed to allow Concordia Parish Sheriff’s working crew to mow Clayton’s park.
Evans made a motion to instruct Washington to reimburse Clayton $500 for the cost of mowing the park. Alderman Houston Holmes seconded the motion.
Evans later rescinded his motion after Myeshia Davis, town attorney, advised aldermen that Washington handles the village’s day-to-day operations such as grass cutting in her position as mayor.
“I am respectively rescinding my motion, so we will have all of our I’s dotted and our t’s crossed,” Evans said. “We need to do this in the right way.”
In September, Washington purchased a portable generator and pressure washer after claiming to receive permission from Barber, Holmes and Washington.
Holmes said the claim was not true, and he never received a call from Washington pertaining to the purchase of a generator or pressure washer.
“It seems like we need to be paying the bank instead of buying generators and pressure washers,” Holmes said. “I never received a call from (Washington).”
Alderman agreed to table further discussion until they could meet in executive session with the mayor about both issues.
In other business, aldermen listened to several citizen complaints about numerous gas leaks located throughout Clayton. Citizens advised aldermen they smelled the gas everyday and there were spots of dead grass in their yards where they believe leaks were located.
In another infrastructure topic, Evans said he would check with local fence companies about replacing or repairing the water plant gates after again finding the gates left open due to their worn and broken condition.
“This is very dangerous for Clayton,” Evans said. “We don’t need just anybody being able to go into our plant. This is a need, not a want.”
Meanwhile, Clayton Chief of Police Bobby Madison requested residents to call 911 before directly calling him on his cell phone.
“This shows I have been dispatched, and we can document the call,” Madison said. “This way, I am (legally) covered.”