Ferriday alderman accuses mayor of spending COVID-19 relief dollars without board approval

Published 1:27 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023

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FERRIDAY, La. — Tuesday’s meeting of the Ferriday Mayor and Board of Alderman quickly turned into a shouting match over the alleged spending of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds without board approval.

The board received a second ARPA check for $592,503.50 in October 2022. The first check for $592,503.50 was received in 2021.

Mayor Rydell Turner said after Tuesday’s meeting that approximately $200,000 of the first payment was used to pay employees COVID-19 hazard pay and the rest was used to clean up streets and catch the town up on bills.

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Approximately $300,000 remains of the second check after $125,000 was paid to employees and another $100,000 was used for Ferriday’s clean-up effort, he said.

The top priority for the remaining funds is to update sewer lines, he said.

Town residents stated the outdated lines sprung leaks on Tennessee Avenue.

“We have maybe $300,000 left to be used to clean up the town and repair our outdated sewer pumps,” Turner said. A special meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Ferriday Hall to discuss spending these funds with the aldermen.

Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd took exception to how COVID-19 relief dollars have been spent so far.

“We should have an itemized copy of everything that has been taken out of that money because the board voted to take that money, put it into an account and the board and the mayor were going to sit down and we were going to budget that money out,” Lloyd said. “Some say we could (spend) it because it was in the budget, but it’s not in the budget. We did the budget. We didn’t have a meeting in July and we had a meeting in August. We have not amended the budget and none of that money has been in the budget and that’s a violation of the law.”

Lloyd also gave the mayor a letter that she said had been sent to the Legislative Auditor’s office, the District Attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s office and the Concordia Sentinel.

In the letter, Lloyd requested a copy of bi-weekly bookkeeping payroll reports, from July 1, 2022 to January 9, 2023 reflecting hours worked, overtime worked, leave, time off, sick days taken, gross and net pay, as well as incentive pay, bonus pay, Cares Act Funds Distribution, and ARPA distribution, according to the Sentinel.

“We have people getting all of this overtime and you can’t get overtime on a salary,” Lloyd said. “It’s in the letter.”