UPDATE: STERLINGTON, LA (KTVE/KARD)– Fiscal Administrator I.M. “Junior” Shelton Jr., provided his final report to Sterlington alderman, reporting $600,000 in the bank.
Shelton was appointed in 2019 to oversee the town’s spending. When he came along, the town had about $40,000 in the bank and was not meeting its debt service requirements.
The News Star reports, Shelton initially thought they would have to sell the town’s sewer system, but it turned into a revenue generator.
“This was everybody working together, and I understand that it’s a difficult thing when you’re given a fiscal administrator because the mayor, the board of aldermen, all the employees, all of a sudden, they have a new boss, and it’s not one that they asked for,” Shelton said.
Shelton went on to say, “This town has set itself apart from other towns in the state of Louisiana,” Shelton said. “They’ve proven that we can have perhaps all the bad things going against us, and we can pull that out.”
Shelton previously request to be relieved of his duties by June 1.
STERLINGTON, La. (KTVE/KARD)– I.M. “Junior” Shelton Jr. is the state-appointed fiscal administrator for the town of Sterlington. His primary goal is making sure the town is debt-free.
According to the Ouachita Citizen, Shelton has reported the town’s finances are in good health and requested to be relieved of his duties by June 1.
Shelton assumed this position in August 2019. The state Fiscal Review Committee challenged him with helping the town pay its creditors and find new sources of funds to pay off $20 million in existing debts.
“During this time, we have increased revenues sufficiently to pay ALL debts, bonded and otherwise,” Shelton wrote in an email obtained by The Ouachita Citizen. “The town, I believe, is ready to take on the responsibility of its fiscal well-being themselves.”
Under the direction of former Mayor Vern Breland, Sterlington accumulated millions of dollars in debt, working on numerous projects such as: expanding its water and sewer system, pursuing the establishment of municipally-operated utilities, lengthy litigation and the development of the Sterlington Sports Complex.
In fact, after several audit results and news reports in regards to questionable financial activities, Breland is now facing criminal charges stemming from his time as mayor.
As the town’s fiscal administrator, Shelton negotiated new fees with the Greater Ouachita Water Co., raised sewer rates and increased a sales tax on local businesses to boost up the funds needed to meet the town’s debt service payments.
It was the town’s negligence to make a debt service payment in late 2018 that originally caught the Fiscal Review Committee’s attention and led to Shelton’s installation.
“I consider him a mentor, and I’ll miss him,” said Town Councilman Matt Talbert, of Shelton. “I learned a lot from him, but ultimately, there’s an end to this. I knew those resolutions were part of the exit plan, I just didn’t know it would be so soon.”
“I think this news says we’ve crawled our way back to air,” said Town Councilman Zack Howse. “We’re poised to head in the right direction. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Mr. Shelton. He did a great job of letting us take the reins when we needed to. We’re very grateful to have had him help us. That was the goal all along, so that we could stand on our own.”
The Ouachita Citizen reports, under the direction of Shelton, the balance of Sterlington’s general fund went from $40,000 to $600,000.