Key annual goals for Winnsboro are financial stability and infrastructure improvements, said Mayor Sonny Dumas.
In 2019 Winnsboro exhausted nearly $1 million from certificates of deposits at Progressive Bank to pay back taxes, unpaid bills, employee insurance and retirement funds dating back to former Mayor Jackie Johnson’s administration.
Dumas hopes 2020 is a “rebuilding year” for Winnsboro.
“We were able to utilize funds to pay our debts and get on track,” Dumas said. “We are continuing to talk to creditors on a day-to-day basis, and we are paying our bills.”
Winnsboro’s 2020 financial budget is “narrow,” and officials are relying on property and sales taxes in order to pay town debt, Dumas said.
“It’s going to be tight,” Dumas said. “We are not going to be doing a lot of hiring, but we will make it.”
Instead of hiring, a key to employee growth will be through education in each department, Dumas said. Education will bring more employee stability and give each employee more incentive to work for the town.
“Each employee will have to give their best to make Winnsboro better,” Dumas said.
Additionally, infrastructure improvements will be a forefront goal for 2020, Dumas said.
Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) and Community Water Enrichment Fund (CWEF) grant applications were approved at the Town Council’s December meeting. If applications are approved, money will be used to purchase and install three pumps and two transmitters for Winnsboro’s aging sewer lift stations.
Street improvements are also on the agenda for infrastructure improvement, Dumas said.
“We do have money to improve our streets,” Dumas said. “When the weather starts clearing, our people will see work being done on the streets.”
Residents may see some older town-owned buildings being torn down and replaced or refurbished in the coming year, Dumas said. The condemnation of blighted property in Winnsboro will also continue.
“You may even see the refurbishing of the old garment factory,” he said.
Economic development was also listed as a key goal for Winnsboro, Dumas said.
“This is a constant consideration,” he said. “We want to use the expertise found at Delta Community College to help develop our city and bring it more up-to-date with technology.”
In 2020, Dumas said he wanted to build “camaraderie” with parish municipalities and the Franklin Parish Police Jury.
“We should help each other in this parish,” Dumas said. “When we help each other, we all benefit.”
In whatever goals set by his administration, Dumas assured policies and procedures would be followed.
“From stem to stern, we will follow the proper procedures,” Dumas said. “If we make sure we are doing everything right, the rest will fall into place.”