Former mayor racks up $52,000 in legal fees
PORT ALLEN - Former Mayor Deedy Slaughter racked up nearly $52,000 in legal fees by Phelps Dunbar, according to public records obtained by the News 2 Investigative Unit. The fees were from April until August of this year.
Nearly $7,000 in fees were billed to Port Allen after Judge Alvin Batiste and the City Council ruled that legal work needed to be approved by the council before it was done in order to bill the city.
"I've turned it over to Lance Joseph," Mayor Pro Tem Ray Helen Lawrence said. "The city's attorney. Other than that there's really nothing I can say about it."
Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain did the same thing, after she discovered the bills that were past due. All of them were dated while Slaughter was still in office.
"A lot of the legal work done was for last fiscal year," McCain said. "That year has already been closed out. I also don't have the money in this fiscal year to pay those fees."
Since Slaughter vacated her office, Lawrence has been trying to get things back in order.
"I'm just sitting in temporarily as Mayor Pro Tem," Lawrence said.
Lawrence is limited in what she can do. The law doesn't allow her to introduce a budget, even though she was questioned about it at Wednesday night's council meeting.
"I really don't appreciate the way I was attacked," Lawrence said. "I really don't."
Meanwhile, everyone believes the issues Port Allen faces will be taken care of once an interim mayor is appointed. The first order of business will be trying to secure a budget.
"Most of the important vendors like bond payments, elected phones the things that allow the city to operate, salaries of employees retirement all of those are being paid," McCain said.
"I'm just wishing hoping and praying for the best for the city," Lawrence said.
News 2 reached out to Phelps Dunbar to ask why it performed legal work after the judge's ruling. A spokesperson said the firm does not comment on legal fees for clients.