Clinton plans blues, not berries _lowres (copy)

CLINTON — Mayor Mark Kemp has been scrutinizing bills and contracts from the prior administration in an effort to clean up the town's operations.

On Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen created a new Finance Committee, which will work with Kemp on clearing up a number of financial problems, including nonpayment of some bills and failure to file reports with the state.

Kemp named Aldermen Bart Blackledge and Darren Matthews to the committee.

The mayor also reported on efforts to review contracts and agreements in place before he took over from Mayor Lori Ann Bell in December.

Bell resigned after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor financial crime involving town business.

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In one example, Kemp said, he asked to see a contract with Waste Management Inc. for two trash bins the town rents, one at the town hall and the other at the park. He said the company could not produce a contract for the annual payments totaling $8,656 last year, but the company agreed to put a larger bin at the town hall for $156 per month, a savings of approximately $6,784 per year.

The town will put barrels at the park and dump the waste into the town hall bin, Kemp said.

Kemp said he wants the committee to scrutinize all bills the town receives to get a better understanding of how town business has been conducted.

The mayor also said he was unable to access until recently the email account for "town of Clinton mayor" because of a password issue.

As a result, the town failed to submit a discharge monitoring report to the state Department of Environmental Quality, an oversight Kemp said could have resulted in a $32,000 per day fine.

He said the computer system is overloaded, outdated and lacks the capacity to back up vital data. He said he will begin working on getting some of those problems fixed.

"I'm finding out things every day," Kemp said.

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The mayor also appointed Alderwomen Kim Davis and Mary Dunaway to a new Personnel Committee.

Reporting on last month's 15th annual Family and Friends Mardi Gras parade, Police Chief Ned Davis said the promises made in the permit turned out to be starkly different from the reality. He said the parade route is too long, apparently people showed up to enter the parade without paying entrance fees to the organizers and a fight broke out at the school where the parade originated.

"They came from everywhere," Davis said.

He said town police were blamed for not having security at the school, but the small department was stretched thin in manning key points on the parade route.

Dayshon Harris, who said he was riding with the parade chairwoman, disputed the police chief's account of unauthorized people joining the parade, but other officials said the parade included four-wheel vehicles, while the parade rules state they are not allowed.

Kemp and Dunaway said one float in particular "dropped a lot of F-bombs" in the music blaring from the entry while children marched behind the float and were all along the parade route.

"It needs to be more family friendly," Dunaway said.

"It was a cluster," Davis agreed. "It could be better."

Davis also told the large audience that if anyone calls the Police Department and finds all of the officers on duty are on calls, they should call the parish nonemergency number, (225) 683-5459, for police dispatching.