Newly elected Clayton Mayor Wilbert Washington said multiple financial issues are being resolved as he begins his first term as head of city government.
The former aldermen said that he discovered upon taking office as mayor that town vehicles have not been insured and employees have had no workman’s compensation since 2018 due to lack of payment.
Washington discussed the predicament at Tuesday night’s regular meeting in front of recently appointed aldermen Carl Ray Thompson and Michelle Bethea.
John Mitchell and Kevin Mitchell were also in attendance and will serve as aldermen beginning this week when they are sworn in by Concordia Parish Clerk of Court Andy Anders.
Returning to serve another four years as alderman is Willie Evans.
Since taking the post, Wilbert Washington said he obtained insurance for the vehicles and reinstated workman’s comp.
“I found a company out of Monroe that specializes in municipal underwriting, and they were able to write us insurance for our vehicles,” Washington said. “Workman’s comp has also been reinstated.”
In a related matter, Washington announced there were “several recurring expenses that had not been paid” with back due balances. Clayton officials paid the current August balances and have begun paying outstanding back balances.
Included in the nonpayment list was Axion Enterprise Inc. who leases radar equipment to the Clayton Police Department radar equipment; Louisiana Forensic Office (approximately $5,400 in back payments); and Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority (approximately $1,600 in back payments).
In his monthly financial statement to aldermen, Washington said Clayton pays approximately $21,000 per month in total bills.
Meanwhile, aldermen introduced an ordinance which would reclassify Clayton from a town to a village.
“We’ve been trying to get this done for over a year,” Washington said.
In Louisiana, municipalities with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants are classified as villages. Clayton had 711 residents, according to the 2010 census.
Additionally, aldermen reinstated James Griffon as Clayton’s gas operator and reappointed Sally Lewis as town clerk.
Griffon was released from his duties by former Clayton Mayor Josephine Washington in early 2018. After releasing Griffon, Clayton used Waterproof’s gas operator on a part-time basis in 2018 but has been without an operator since then.
“The Town of Clayton has been in violation of gas operation code,”
Washington said. “The corrosion control folks with the Louisiana gas pipeline gave the previous administration a temporary authorization to a mutual aid agreement with town of Waterproof. They allowed us to do that for one year.”
Louisiana Corrosion control will perform Clayton’s three-year inspection in October, Washington said.
“They came to me in late July and explained to me you can no longer use that as an agreement (with Waterproof),” Washington said. “Technically, Town of Clayton does not legitimately have a gas operator.”
If Clayton did not have a dedicated gas operator by inspection time, the municipality could possibly be fined upwards to $100,000.
In other business, aldermen scheduled a public hearing next month for the town’s proposed fiscal year budget.