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Town of Melville in debt and facing possible state takeover

Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 19, 2022

The town of Melville is being given the chance to address myriad financial problems, including a deficit of more than 400 thousand dollars. 

The town's CPA hasn't been able to audit the town books for nearly three years which puts Melville on the state's non-compliance list. That prevents the town from receiving state or federal funding.

Parish President Jessie Bellard, says Melville has serious financial problems that need to be addressed - raising questions of whether the state should come in to fix it.

Bellard also says as of the end of June the town has nearly 18 thousand dollars in the bank.

“The main problem is they owe 450 thousand dollars, through vendors, IRS and everything they have a big liability on their back right now. One of the other issues is they don’t send out bills for water sewer or gas. They haven’t sent out bills since January of this year.”
Parish President Jessie Bellard

According to Parish President Jessie Bellard, the town of Melville has not sent out a utility bill to its residents since January. Those utilities are a large part of the town's income, which has added more than 200 thousand dollars to the deficit.

“So people have been having the gas, water, sewer, and everything. And all the services but they haven’t been billed for it,” Bellard said.

All residents in the town are charged a flat rate of 75 dollars for utilities including water, sewer, gas, and to pay for fire trucks.

The town has also not completed an audit of the state in nearly three years.

“Without having a good audit in three years, that’s automatically one of the criteria to have the state taking over the Town,” Bellard added.

KATC spoke with Diane Allison, Director of local government services for the state legislative auditor. She said they've offered help, but the town emailed her office on August 16, stating they have their own financial consultant who is working to address the issues

“What the town wants to do is, in Melville, The town wants the opportunity to solve their own problems so we want to give them the opportunity to solve their own problems,” Allison said.

“They are going to develop their own plan. They need to put their plan in writing on how they're going to solve their problems. And then we will take a look at it and discuss it. And then we’ll make the ultimate decision. On if we think the plan is a good plan and how we should move forward,” Allison added.

We reached out to the Mayor of Melville, Velma Hendrix, regarding the town not distributing utility bills for over six months.

"Yes, I think it's fair because residents used the utilities. So it's fair for them to pay. They drank the water, they used the water for house purposes and everything else so they should be responsible for it,” Hendrix said.

And we also asked about the town creating laws…

“We are going to make laws for the town…Well right now we're in such a predicament that we're not really capable of really doing that right now but I imagine that in the next couple of months. We will be able to get this,” She added.

We’ll update you as this story develops.