STERLINGTON, La. (7/24/19)– It’s been a tough year financially for Sterlington. With about $21 million in debt and several missed payments, the state is asking the court to appoint a financial administrator to the town.

“His job is going to be to figure out how do we get solvent, how does the town come out of its debt issues,” said Caesar Velasquez, mayor of Sterlington.

The town started a forbearance collection agreement in February, in which Sterlington agreed to make monthly payments to the banks it owed money to. Part of this agreement included the banks saying their missed December payments weren’t late.

Despite cutting $600,000 from the budget in six months, the town missed two payments in June.

“One of the unfortunate things was that the bank that we owe this to was not on the forbearance agreement,” said Mayor Velasquez.

Those two missed payments–totaling $61,000.

After assessing Sterlington’s situation, the state made a decision.

“The state attorney general decided to go ahead and sign off on it saying we need a fiscal administrator,” said Mayor Velasquez.

Mayor Velasquez says I.M. Shelton Jr., the former mayor of Central, Louisiana, will be appointed to the role.

“He’s got a very good background, financial background. I think he’s going to be a very big asset to the town to help us get out of this,” said Mayor Velasquez.

Mayor Velasquez says the proposed sales tax is tabled for now until Shelton arrives.

Some locals are hopeful this appointee will help the town.

“Maybe the cost of hiring this person will help them,” said Barry Patrick, who works in Sterlington.

The court date to approve the financial administrator has not been announced. If approved, Shelton will be compensated by the town. It’s unknown how much he’ll be paid.