State files suit against Village of Powhatan

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Juanice Gray | Editor
The State, through Attorney General Jeff Landry, has filed suit against the Village of Powhatan. The citation was delivered to Powhatan Mayor Hardrick Rivers Oct. 4. The state is seeking the appointment of an Independent Fiscal Administrator for the Village due to increasing debt by the Village.

This article published in the Oct. 30, 2021, print edition

According to the suit, based on findings by the La. Legislative Auditor and Powhatan’s financial statements, the Village is in debt in the amount of $90,852.65 while having a total cash account balance, including restricted cash, of $6,353.07 at the time the suit was filed in September. That is a net deficit of $84,499.58.
The suit states when an entity has insufficient revenue to pay current, or past due debts, a fiscal administrator can be appointed.
Powhatan’s financial woes did not happen overnight. In September 2017, the La. Dept. of Health (LDH) issued a corrective order for non-compliance with state drinking water regulations related to the Village’s water and sewage system. In August 2021, LDH issued a penalties order in the amount of $64,655.50 for failing to comply. The penalties accrued over 1,105 days. These penalties became legal and due after the Village failed to request an administrative appeal within 20 days of being served. These penalties continue to accrue. At the time the suit was filed, the penalties totaled $98,816.90.
In addition, the Village of Powhatan has outstanding debts to the LDH for $1,556.10 for the months of April-June 2021. These were for safe drinking water fees. The Village paid one-third the amount due Aug. 10, but has not paid the fees for July or August.
Powhatan also owes Thomas, Cunningham, Broady & Totenbier $9,500 for accounting services in 2018 and 2019; $8,824 to Red River Pump Specialists for equipment; $13,300 to Water Tank Services, LLC, for repair services to the two water and sewerage ground storage tanks; $2,823.79 to SWEPCO; $1,221.96 to the Secretary of State for services related to the July 11, 2020, election; and a $140 minimum to Gulf States Environmental Lab for testing services.
The Powhatan bank account balances show that as of Aug. 31, the general operating fund balance was $1,364.31; waterworks operation and maintenance account, $1,237.65; general alimony tax, $16.97; amortization account, $14.10; employee tax account, $2,286.58; community development block grant account, $29.88; waterworks reserve, $107.03; waterworks depreciation and contingency fund, $34.16; and the waterworks customer deposit account had a balance of $1,262.39.
The suit states the outstanding debts outlined above does not include replenishing the water meter deposit fund as well as an unspecified debt owed to the IRS. Debts related to the water and sewer system to bring them into compliance are also not included.
The state is requesting all costs and expenses of the suit and the fiscal administrator be paid by the Village of Powhatan.