Bogalusa group defends fiscal efforts

Published 12:57 pm Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said the city’s March 19 meeting with the State Bond Commission was fruitful as she promised the body that the city would comply with all directives and plans it had in order to eliminate its approximately $3 million deficit.

The meeting took place in Senate Committee Room A. State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy asked pointed question to the Bogalusa contingent about how the city was going to fight to eliminate its debt. Perrette, Administration Director Stacy Smith, City Bonding Attorney David Wolf and District 12 Sen. Ben Nevers represented Bogalusa.

“I think it was a success,” Perrette said of the meeting. “We’re going to aggressively follow the plan and do what the legislative auditors and bonding agents say to do. We’re going to follow their direction and follow all Louisiana and federal laws. We take whatever suggestions were made seriously.”

It was the seventh straight year the city of Bogalusa has appeared before the Bond Commission.

Kennedy asked why plans to balance the books from previous administrations were never implemented.

“That was the past and this is the new,” Perrette said. “In the two months since I’ve been there as mayor, I’ve been cutting expenses, and I’m kind of heartless about that. We were led to believe by previous administrations that we were in compliance with the plan.”

Before being elected mayor, Perrette served 12 years on the City Council.

“When I moved over to this seat as mayor, I found out that the compliance plan had not been done,” Perrette said. “I’m tired of hearing how the city is broke when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The City of Bogalusa’s 2008 formal plan has two objectives: to implement cost savings administratively and to enhance revenues. The goal is to provide for a $1.6 million general fund balance to address paying bills in a timely manner, purchase new equipment and establish a $600,000 Insurance Reserve Fund.

It was revealed the city is losing approximately $300,000 per month. Some measures to stem this that have already been implemented include tightening the reins regarding unpaid water bills and reviewing contracts for services such as cemetery plot surveying.

Also, talk during the hearing alleged that there had previously been a list of people whose water was not to be shut off regardless of payment status, and although Perrette acknowledged she had heard of such a list, she said she had never seen it herself. That matter, however, was not discussed in detail as it may be put in the hands of federal law enforcement.

“This is not the first time the city of Bogalusa has been here,” Kennedy said. “Every year there is a plan and every year there is a plan to be implemented and it’s never implemented. I’m just appalled.”

”I am too,” Perrette said. “We need that money.”

Kennedy requested Perrette and her group return in four months for review.

“We’ve got to get this fixed,” Kennedy said.

To view the hearing, see The portion dealing with Bogalusa begins around the 14-minute mark.