PEARL RIVER, La. - There are new developments in our ongoing reports on the Town of Pearl River and questions about some of its operations and spending.
A citizens watchdog group Monday made a formal request for an investigation to several state agencies. The letter, from the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, pleads with the inspector general, the legislative auditor and the ethics board to “investigate these matters,” regarding the town and its operations.
"We've basically compiled a lot of information that we think needs to be looked at so we're sending it to all three agencies and we'll see what comes out of it," said Rick Franzo with CCST.
The letter asks for help probing possible town work on private property culverts and many questions about the budget, including how FEMA money is tracked and outlined, why thousands of dollars in ‘carryover’ or rollover funds never change amounts from year to year and questionable resources put toward parish recreation districts.
Other questions involve the town attorney and the mayor’s court, retirement plans for the mayor and the police chief -- both elected officials -- along with possible unfairness of permits issued and an unclear sale of a town tractor.
The request comes on the heels of several recent Eyewitness News reports on the town and the new concerns raised go along with what we've investigated.
Those reports focused on questioning the town’s true financial status after uncovering questionable cuts, like ending take-home police cars, questionable spending, several miscellaneous accounts in the budget and the mayor receiving a new car along with receiving an annual car allowance and questionable decisions affecting revenue, like a hand-written letter attached to several speeding citations calling for the violations to be dropped in severity, which leads to, if followed, a drop in court fees revenue for the town, which the mayor says is struggling.
Mayor James Lavigne declined to comment on the letter being sent or the new questions in it.
"I think from past experience, there's going to be some red flags,” said Franzo, “But I also think there's concerns beyond that and I think there will be some other red flags that will surface when they start looking at information that's being presented."
It's another step toward, what the group says is, bringing good government back to Pearl River.
The first meeting for the Concerned Citizens of Pearl River is scheduled for Nov. 11 at the Lions Club on Calhoun Street. The meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and is open to both citizens of Pearl River, as well as people who live in the Pearl River area.