The Town of Gibsland in Bienville Parish has seen it's share of problems within the last year. First it was missing money, then a broken sewer pump. Now the water is cut off and the lights could be next.
The small town is currently under investigation by several agencies for more than $80,000.00 dollars in missing funds. According to one town leader, the town is also having trouble paying its monthly bills. The Mayor Pro Tem Marketris Jones says Entergy has warned him, unless the bills are paid, the company will begin shutting off power, starting with the street lights around town hall. Jones is hoping a state intervention will keep that from happening.
The Town of Gibsland has so many financial problems, the state of Louisiana is on the verge of appointing a fiscal administrator to take over the towns finances. This happens when the legislative auditor, attorney general, and the state treasurer agree a town or other government body doesn't have enough money to fund its operations or pay its debts.
Jones says the majority of the Board of Alderman have decided a fiscal administrator would be best for the town. Neighbors KSLA News 12 spoke with on and off camera agree. "I think it's a good idea, I think someone needs to come in and do something, because the town is a mess," said neighbor Juanita Frye. But speaking with neighbors near Mayor Odis Key's home wasn't entirely easy. In fact, a KSLA News 12 crew was harassed.
The mayor declined an interview and said no comment. But the entire time KSLA News 12 was walking the streets speaking with the community, a car later seen parked in front of the mayor's home followed the entire time, even honking. It appeared the mayor or someone in his house didn't want us getting reaction from neighbors. KSLA News 12 knocked on his door to ask why, but no one answered.
The mayor will have to answer to the state in a meeting scheduled next week.
With Entergy threatening to shut off the lights over unpaid bills and Red River Pump Specialists suing the town for more than $17,640.00 dollars in unpaid fees plus interest and attorney fees, Jones just hopes the state will be able to straighten out the mess.
State leaders will determine the financial stability of the Town of Gibsland on August 15th at 1:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge.