Jeff Davis

Jul 8, 2013 7:55 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Elton Audit, Unpaid Utility Bills & Town Leaks

Delinquent utility bills, and re-occuring leaks are a problem for one town in Acadiana.

That according to a newly-released audit on the town of Elton, which shows the town has lost more that half a million dollars in the past five years from utilities.

Water drains the most cash at more than 263,000 dollars. Even though utility rates went up in 2009, the town's utility company is operating at a loss, nearly doubling in 2010.

When it comes to unpaid utility bills and town leaks, Mayor Catherine Hollingsworth is taking responsibility.

"Of course the Mayor, you're the end of the line," Mayor Catherine Hollingsworth said.

Unpaid utility bills has been a problem, according to the audit, since 2009. They audit says the town needs to be more aggressive when collecting past due bills, and cut off those who aren't paying. Among those deliquent residents are seven un-named town employees. Some even owe today.

"Right now I would say maybe three, but I do have one that paid today I know for sure," Hollingsworth said.

But she says she's addressed this problem will all 20 of her town employees. Some, however, can't pay their bill until the end of the month.

"They do have to pay the late fee, and it does show that it is late, but actually by the end of the month it's paid. So they're in good standing," Hollingsworth said.

The audit also reported water leaks in Elton, which has been a problem that's shown up on the audit for the past five years. Hollingsworth says the leaks were fixed last year, and water loss has decreased by millions of gallons.

"We pretty much have taken care of all our leaks, and we try to stay on top of them now to save the utility fund. It shows that we have done that," Hollingsworth said.

Despite the losses seen from water leaks and unpaid utility bills, the town is making money. The biggest revenue source is from the Coushatta tribe. Nearly 400 thousand dollars was collected in gambling revenue in 2012. That's more than all of Elton's sales tax collections combined.

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