Gibsland audit shows town still in poor financial state, but improving

Gibsland audit shows town still in poor financial state, but improving
The town of Gibsland

GIBSLAND, LA (KSLA) - After years of being in the red from serious financial problems, the latest state audit is showing improvements for the Bienville Parish Town of Gibsland.

But, the community of nearly 1,000 still has a long way to go.

"To see the deterioration of this town over a 30 year period, it broke my heart," said Mayor Terry Wilson.

Wilson has been in office a little more than a year now. Throughout his year as mayor, he admits he has to work on fixing problems from the previous administrations.

A previous audit showed the town owed $80,000 to the IRS in payroll and other taxes. 
"In the mid 80's, the new water system was put in and we incurred a debt there with the USDA. That debt was not managed correctly moving forward, and here we are in 2016 still having a giant debt left with USDA," said Wilson.

About 30 percent of Gibsland's more than $700,000 debt is owed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and residents are feeling the impact.

"We are paying for our water and sewer we are paying some of the highest bills or receipts, if you will, than any other municipality in North Louisiana," explained Wilson.

The town is still in poor financial state according to the newest audit from the state, but it is better than it has been in previous years.

"They're able to be audited now, they've still got a lot of problems, you know, they're not out of the woods yet, but they're headed in the right direction," said Daryl Purpera, Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

With the town's money problems dating back more than 20 years, Wilson knows it isn't going to be an easy, one-or-two year fix.

The mayor says he hopes to decrease the water and sewer bills by the end of the year.

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