Clinton mayor meets with state auditors to discuss failing water system
CLINTON - Mayor Lori Bell was called to the State Capitol to discuss what's going on with the town's water system and finances. During Monday's meeting, the Louisiana of Department of Health assured auditors that the town is on track and met the February 17th deadline.
"We did receive a response from the town on the administrative order on the 30-day items," said a chief engineer with Louisiana Department of Health. "For the most part, it looks like they have complied with the majority of items."
So far, Mayor Bell has fixed seven out of the 16 deficiencies.
“The Town of Clinton is making a comeback,” said Niles Haymer, Bell's lawyer.
Since last year, the mayor found herself behind bars for several incidents, one including the purchase of four SUV’s. Just recently, Bell failed to comply with the Louisiana Department of Health over the town’s malfunctioned water system. However, LDH says the water is safe.
"Based on our current sample results, they made the regulations on water quality," a spokesperson for the Department of Health said.
But the mayor is not out of woods yet. The town's finances cannot back up the cost of fully repairing the water system, which could affect residents.
"There may be an increase in revenue, such as increasing the bill for the people of the Town of Clinton to address some of the water issues, and also they may be able to take out some low-interest loans," Haymer added.
However, the mayor has hired a water operator. They have a contract with Thornton, Musso & Bellemin Inc. This will cost the city $7,000/month.
"As of now, the water is acceptable to drink and I am pretty sure we are very optimistic that that is not going to change," Haymer said.
The mayor's next deadline requires her to have an engineer make an assessment to the water system. This deadline is scheduled in the next 90 days.
State auditors have decided to wait 30 days before they administer any help to the town. They have agreed to wait on the results from the engineer's evaluation and seek the consultation from an expert to make sure the water in Clinton is indeed safe.