Gibsland, LA Update – 7/15/14

Gibsland utility clerk fired; finances probe continues

By Vickie Welborn

A utility clerk hired by former Mayor Odell Key, who is serving a prison sentence for his mishandling of the town’s money, has been fired as a probe continues into other questionable financial decision-making.

Meanwhile the fiscal administrator, David Greer, appointed in November by a Bienville District Court judge to oversee all of Gibsland’s operations, is still working to get the town back on track following years of neglect under Key’s administration. Financially, the town is better, “But we still have a big hole to dig out of,” Greer said.

Part of his work even includes trying to recoup money the Internal Revenue Service seized personally from the Board of Aldermen members and one former town employee. The IRS seized the funds and applied them to the town’s debt for nonpayment of employee payroll taxes.

A criminal investigation by the Bienville Parish sheriff’s office and investigative audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office revealed a host of problems, including owing more than $200,000 to assorted vendors. About $80,000 was due the IRS.

Sheriff’s investigators questioned spending practices and suspected misuse of public funds. However, the lack of records, many of which have yet to be found, made it difficult to create a paper trail as to where the money was going. Sheriff John Ballance raised questions about stipends paid to employees for attending meetings, unsupported documents for travel expenses, buying party supplies, flowers and meals at local restaurants.

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