The town of Washington, once known for being a notorious speed trap on I-49, is facing a state takeover because of its inability to pass a budget.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office says Washington is 600 thousands dollars in debt.
The mayor and the council have been unable to come to agreement on funding the town and paying debts.
Councilwoman Mona Bob rejected the budget proposal twice
“As a female on the council, I was literally threatened, harassed, for trying to do what’s right and that’s get a passable budget for the town of Washington.” Bob explained.
Bob believes a lack of communication between the mayor and council is preventing them from passing a budget.
One of the reasons she voted against it was because it proposed closing the town library.
“Cutting out this service would be disservice to the people that need this service.” said Bob.
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office has been working with the town to pass a budget.
“Based on what we saw over the course of the last few weeks. They did have a budget that was balanced. It did allow a certain amount of excess funds about 90 thousand to start paying back that back log.” said Bradley Cryer who is the Director of Local Goverment Services for the LLA.
None of that erases Bob’s concerns
“We don’t have the manpower for the some of the numbers that are in this budget so we have to come back to this budget. It’s up to the administrator, but he’s not communicating with us.” said Bob.
If the state were to take over, the mayor and council would take a back seat to an appointed fiscal administrator who will be tasked with fixing the town’s budget.
“Anything that is not a critical vital service for the community. We are generally talking about utilities, police and fire protection. Anything outside of that is certainly on the chopping block.” Cryer explained.
Bob is optimistic it wont get to that point.
“I think open communication would get a passable budget before the state comes in.” said Bob.
Mayor Jim Olivier didn’t offer a comment when asked about the issue.
The town has until the end of the year to pass a budget.