Sep 22, 2011 11:26 PM by Shawn Kline
Council members in the St. Landry Parish town of Washington are desperately looking for ways to cut spending. However, Mayor Joseph Pitre argues the town is far from declaring bankruptcy.
After reviewing the town's budget, auditors are suggesting severe cut-backs but at a public hearing on the issue, Mayor Pitre appeared to have little concern over the situation.
"I feel comfortable and confident that we're in a lot better shape than other towns." Pitre says, "and certainly a far cry from bankruptcy."
Over the past year, Washington has seen its savings account dwindle from over $700,000 to now, just more than $200,000. Mayor Pitre says he expects the town to start turning profits this winter.
"The town does not have any debt at all," Pitre said. "That means zero."
Before the public could ask the mayor any questions about his findings or how he led to them, he left the meeting.
"I think the whole town council is in a state of denial," Washington resident, Rand Speyrer said.
Speyrer was one of those to speak-up in front of council during a discussion (without Mayor Pitre). Speyrer says after reviewing the budget, the town has no other option but to start cutting back, and soon.
"We continue to spend considerably after the revenue is dried-up." Speyrer says, "that's why we've had to transfer (over) $600,000 from the savings just to pay operating expenses this year."
Council is now hitting a mad-rush to try to cut back on spending and they're considering increasing water charges, cutting-back on staff or even closing the library but the decision needs to be made soon before money runs out and auditors say that could be before January 1st.