P-1 Photo -- Clayton fiscal review II.jpeg

LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR Michael Waguespack, pictured far left, recommended rescinding Clayton's fiscal administrator during this Aug. 26 Legislative Fiscal Review Committee meeting. Also attending the meeting were Clayton Mayor Wilbert Washington and village attorney Thomas Enright Jr (far right).

A Legislative Fiscal Review Committee on Aug. 26 rescinded a decision to appoint a fiscal administrator for Clayton.

Legislative Auditor Michael Waguespack called Clayton’s financial turnaround “impressive” and Mayor Wilbert Washington’s improvement efforts “excellent” during his rescinding recommendation.

Clayton has been under a fiscal administrator order for two years mainly due to financial and infrastructure woes. An administrator was never assigned, giving Washington and aldermen time to work on dilemmas facing Clayton.

“A couple of years ago, we appointed a fiscal administrator but it got delayed,” Waguespack said. “That delay worked to their benefit.”

The Fiscal Review Committee highlighted several of Clayton’s moves that led to their decision.

Namely, Clayton submitted its 2019, 2020 fiscal review reports; Washington and aldermen reduced their pay in order to finance the auditor; the administration increased the town’s cash by $88,000; principal and interest payments are being paid on the Concordia Bank & Trust Co. loan and deficiencies in general fund revenues were cut by 50 percent.

“We have a plan going forward to cement these plans even beyond my administration,” Washington said. “I have a very good board of aldermen who have a good plan to improve our town.”

Additionally, work continues on Clayton’s aging infrastructure.

“By the end of the year, we should have our water situations under control,” Washington told the committee. “Sewer will be a little longer project, but we are starting to work on that as well.”

Washington said his administration is planning on consolidating with Ferriday’s water system to increase Clayton’s profitability and take American Relief Plan (ARP) funds to pay for a backup power source for the water plant.

Washington also said plans were in place for Clayton to continue paying the Concordia Bank & Trust Co. loan.

“We’ve come up with a payment plan to pay off our loan in nine years no matter who is in office,” Washington said. 

On another front, aldermen awarded Wolfe Disposal of St. Joseph the contract for Clayton’s solid waste disposal. The move came about in its regular meeting, Sept. 7.

Its bid was for $15.40 per house for garbage pickup without small bulk pick up; $19.80 per household or $4,970 per month for garbage pickup with small bulk pickup. For heavy bulk pickup, the company would charge $1,020 as needed for eight hours.

Waste Pro was Clayton’s previous provider for six years.

Meanwhile, Washington warned owners of blighted property will get cited per village ordinances.

Property owners who need to clean up their lot will receive a certified letter. Once they receive the letter, they have 10 days to take action. If owners do not, Clayton will then begin the process of having it cleaned.

Condemnation of a blighted building is a longer process involving papers being served if the property owner refuses to demolish the structure.

“We’re going to get help from the police chief, fire marshal and our attorney,” Washington said. “We need to clean Clayton up, so we can attract more businesses. These ordinances have been on the books for years, and we are going to start enforcing them.”

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