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UPDATE: St. Joseph Mayor Breaks Silence on Lawsuits at Town Meeting

St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown met with a crowd of more than 100 people at the St. Joseph Community House on Levee Street Thursday night.
More than one hundred people gathered at the community house to hear the mayor's address. (Nick Lawton, KTVE/KARD)
More than one hundred people gathered at the community house to hear the mayor's address. (Nick Lawton, KTVE/KARD)
The sign on the front of the Locust Ridge Gas Company. (Nick Lawton, KTVE/KARD)
The sign on the front of the Locust Ridge Gas Company. (Nick Lawton, KTVE/KARD)
UPDATE Friday 5:30 p.m. -- The Town of St. Joseph has been slammed with two lawsuits and placed on the Non-Compliance List by state auditors all in the last month.

Throughout this time, Mayor Edward Brown stayed silent until Thursday night.

The mayor held an informational meeting at the St. Joseph Community Home for an audience of more than 100 to address this.

"As mayor, I don't intend to sit around and be so passive as to allow the people of St. Joseph to be confused and misled," Brown said.

The Locust Ridge Gas Company filed the first lawsuit.

They provide the gas that goes to St. Joseph and its neighbor, the Town of Newellton through a joint gas line.

The company claims both towns owe them more than $122,000 in payments, but Brown said they won't sign a new gas contract because Locust Ridge is demanding more money.

"They want to increase payments from the town from $1 to $3 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet) of gas for transportation. Each resident, gas would increase over $100 per month," said Brown.

Newellton leveled the second lawsuit, suing St. Joseph for financially mishandling their control of that joint gas line.

Newellton is suing to take control of the line.

Brown said St. Joseph doesn't exclusively control the line and Newellton taking control of it could violate auditor requirements.

"To move operations to one town, then certainly we would be violating the proper separation of duties as suggested by external auditors and the Louisiana Legislative Auditors," he said.

Next, the mayor addressed the town being placed on the Non-Compliance List by state auditors for not filing their audit from last June.

"After discussions with the Louisiana Legislative Auditors, the Town of St. Joseph has been granted an extension," said Brown.

State auditors confirmed that extension to KTVE/KARD on Friday. That extension lasts until June 30th.

St. Joseph is now off the Non-Compliance List.

Some residents said they believed the mayor's address.

"I mean, if you're not telling the truth, it's all going to come out, so as far as I'm concerned,  I've got faith in him," said resident Clifton Earl.

Others who wanted to remain anonymous weren't convinced.

"Not direct answers," one woman said. "We weren't allowed to ask questions in regards to the situation and I would more likely love to see on paper versus what you're telling me."

So far, no court dates have been set to hear these lawsuits.

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ST. JOSEPH -- St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown met with a crowd of more than 100 people at the Street Joseph Community House on Levee St. Thursday night.

He addressed the series of lawsuits filed against the city. 

One lawsuit is from the Locust Ridge Gas Company saying St. Joseph and the Town of Newellton owe them more than $100,000 in gas payments. 

The other is from the Town of Newellton saying St. Joseph has financially mishandled the gas line that runs between their towns, providing gas for both of them.

Mayor Brown told the people at the meeting Thursday night these allegations are not true and the reason they haven't approved a new contract with Locust Ridge is because the gas company was going to charge them 200% more than before. 

"They want to increase payments from the town from $1 to $3 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet) of gas for transportation," Brown told the crowd gathered at the meeting.

Mayor Brown said he will stand up for the interests of the town as they head toward possible court dates.

We will bring you more details in the coming days.

Previous Coverage:

St. Joseph Slammed with Gas Line Lawsuits
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