Mayor: State administrator still likely at least ‘5-6 weeks’ away

Published 4:49 am Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mayor Wendy Perrette told the Bogalusa City Council on Thursday that the state is still at least “five to six weeks away” from appointing a state administrator for the city of Bogalusa.

Perrette, speaking to the council during its regular meeting, said that she speaks to officials with the Legislative Auditor’s Office at least once a week. The council typically meets on Tuesdays, but the meeting was moved to Thursday this month due to Mardi Gras.

“It’s business as usual,” Perrette said. “While I’m not at liberty to disclose everything we discuss, I can, however, correct some of the hundreds of rumors circulating around town.

“No administrator has been appointed. The facts are we are still at least five to six weeks away from having any idea of when we will have a fiscal administrator appointed. And more importantly, what that administrator will want to accomplish could not even be known until well after that appointment is made.

“So this is to help squash some of the rumors that you may hear that so-and-so’s renting a building, or so-and-so’s got a job … that’s false. It’s all lies. And after speaking with the legislative auditors, I just thought it was my place to squash those rumors.”

The city of Bogalusa learned Monday, Feb. 18, in a meeting in Baton Rouge, that it would have its locally elected officials replaced by a state fiscal administrator.

During a meeting of the state’s Fiscal Review Committee, Bogalusa and the city of Sterlington were both added to the list of communities where the state has asked for the courts to appoint state administrators. There are currently seven such municipalities in the state, which is the most ever.

A fiscal administrator replaces locally elected officials in times of financial trouble. Administrators have the power to raise fees, cut services, lay off employees and perform other actions in order to keep municipalities’ budgets in line.

Bogalusa’s elected officials will essentially serve as advisors to the state administrator until it is determined the crisis has been solved.

In other business, the council:

  • Held a public hearing concerning the city’s plan to apply for a fiscal year 2020/2021 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant. If approved, the city could receive federal funds to upgrade and revitalize its sewer system.

Public Works Director James Hall said that heavy rainwater often overwhelms the city’s sewer infiltration system, and this is a project that could benefit all citizens.

Engineer Dal Hillhouse explained that CDBG funds typically are not used for street improvement projects. He noted that there are only limited funds available for street work, and those projects are only awarded to municipalities that already have up-to-date water and sewer systems.

Because Bogalusa’s water and sewer systems still need improvements, it is extremely unlikely the city would receive funding if it requests for street work, Hillhouse said.

The city must apply for the grants by June 7.

  • Adopted a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign an application for funding under FY2020/2021 LDCBG Program, a resolution to hire engineering services for any approved grant application, and a resolution to hire administrative services for any approved grant application.
  • Introduced an ordinance approving and adopting the City of Bogalusa Operating Budget and Capital Budget for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The council also introduced an ordinance authorizing the retaining of Postlewaite and Netterville to provide Professional Accounting Services for the City of Bogalusa as per Engagement Letter dated Jan. 10, 2019.
  • Adopted an ordinance to amend Ordinance No. 1911 authorizing the Bogalusa Police Department to charge a fee for processing bonds in criminal matters and placing collected fees in a special account and to roll over yearly and to be used solely for police equipment.

The next meeting of the Bogalusa City Council will be Tuesday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall, located at 214 Arkansas St.