Ferriday insurance debate gets heated

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FERRIDAY — A heated Tuesday aldermen meeting in Ferriday had the board, the mayor and even those in attendance fired up.

While it was not on the agenda, the question of whether or not Ferriday has liability insurance for town-owned vehicles stole the show.

Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd first posed the question to Mayor Glen McGlothin.

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McGlothin said the town is currently covered under a “binder” while bids are being accepted for new insurance policies.

McGlothin said the binder was essentially “temporary insurance” until the town can find a cheaper option than its previous carrier Risk Management and Insurance.

McGlothin said the town already has three bids for the insurance, and he hopes to have more by Friday, when he will make the decision on who to use.

“I am doing this because we have to do it,” he said. “I am hoping we can get a local company to do it, but on Friday I am writing a check to someone for insurance.”

McGlothin said the insurance premiums from RMI have been rising constantly and that the town has to make a switch.

Town attorney Anna Ferguson said Ferriday must switch insurance carriers due to rising costs and a debt owed to RMI.

Ferguson said RMI had previously let Ferriday pay partial payments instead of full ones to the company for coverage, causing a debt to pile up for approximately 10 years that the town can’t pay.

“This debt has occurred over multiple years during multiple administrations,” she said. “The first time RMI did not receive a payment they should have shut the door, but in the name of helping us, they put us in a position where the debt got so high they had to cut us off.”

Aldermen asked whether or not the town would face any legal consequences through the situation, and the answer was no.

Ferguson said since a town is the debtor, the insurance company can’t seize property, but instead the effects will be felt in different ways.

“They can’t come in here and take our cars or seize city hall,” she said. “If these judgments are hanging out there, the effect will be that when we go to the bank or the bond commission to try and borrow money, the answer will be ‘no.’”

Ferguson said while the situation is not ideal, the town knows what it needs to do, and is working on solving the problem.

“We have a binder, we know how much we need to send and we have the money to send them,” she said.

McGlothin said with the change in policies the town should also save the town money.

In other news:

4 The board voted to pass a loan resolution from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the amount of $1,384,000 for the town’s new water meters.

McGlothin said the resolution ties into the $6 million grant the town will receive to build its new water plant.

“Passing the loan resolution is just part of the process,” he said.

McGlothin said the water meters are the second part of the town’s plan to fix their water problem.

“The new water tank was the first step,” he said. “The plant will be the next thing we can work on.”

With a reported 72 percent of Ferriday’s meters not working properly, McGlothin said installing the new meters would be very crucial to fixing the problem.

“We are losing around $500,000 on sewage not reporting properly,” he said. “Once we get the meters in, there is going to be a lot more money the town will see coming in.”

The town is also currently accepting bids for a management company to come in and oversee the new plant when it is built.

Since the town will have to pay the company that will manage the plant, McGlothin said the money being brought in from the meters will go toward paying the company.

“With the money they have shown us that we will get back with the new meters, there have been talks that we may not even have to raise the bills,” he said. “We have been told that the revenue we will receive can go to paying them.”

McGlothin said the town currently has two bids to manage the plant already, and the town will continue taking bids until March 31.

4 Big Bucks Gaming applied for an occupational license for a bingo hall from the city, but had to postpone it until next month’s meeting because they do not have a location for their business yet.

“You can’t get a license unless you have a location,” McGlothin said.