Oberlin board holds special meeting, embattled mayor absent - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Oberlin board holds special meeting, embattled mayor absent

Oberlin Board of Aldermen hold a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the town's financial crisis, including nonpayment of some town bills. (Theresa Schmidt / KPLC) Oberlin Board of Aldermen hold a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the town's financial crisis, including nonpayment of some town bills. (Theresa Schmidt / KPLC)
OBERLIN, LA (KPLC) -

A special meeting Tuesday night resolved little concerning Oberlin's financial crisis.

The meeting, called by the town council, did give elected officials and the public a chance to sound-off about what has been called a total breakdown of cooperation between the council and embattled Mayor Rick Smith.

"We try to take care of the community, we try to bring things up to the mayor," councilman Mark Manuel said. "We try to get things passed where it benefits the community. We just get (pushed) out of the way. We have no say so."

Smith, who has been accused of using town materials and resources in a subdivision he owns, was absent from the meeting. A family member said Smith had to work at another job.

Oberlin is months behind on some of its bills and at least two local businesses have refused to let town employees charge any more on credit until the accounts are settled.

Alderman Phil Beard, who is also the former mayor, led the meeting Tuesday night.

"Us being behind on Cleco, that's scary but they can't cut you off," Beard said.

A major issue discussed included citations issued by the town's police force. Some claim that the fees from the tickets have not been collected by the town's administration.

"(There's) $100,000, or close to it, in citations that's not being collected in a year. That's a bunch of money," Beard said.

The town council will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday and the results from an audit concerning Smith is expected to be revealed.

Smith has asked the legislative auditor to come in and take over the town's finances to help them through the current crisis. The town council and the Allen Parish District Attorney Todd Nesom meanwhile are asking for an investigation into Smith. You can read more about it HERE.

Beard claims if the legislative auditor comes in and takes over, it will be extremely costly for the town.

Last week, a preliminary audit report concerning Smith was forwarded to state police.

Smith has seen the preliminary audit and denies he did anything wrong. He also predicted that investigators will not find he did anything illegal or improper.

Smith said a lot of the town's problems started before he got there.

You can watch the full interview with Smith HERE.

Nesom has been tight-lipped about the findings, but confirmed that it has to do with allegations against Smith.

You can read more about the audit HERE.

In December, Oberlin resident Robert Lee contacted KPLC and made similar accusations against Smith. You can read that story HERE.

Copyright 2014 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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