PEARL RIVER, La. -- This week, Eyewitness News has told you about questionable expenses in the town of Pearl River's budget. Some of them surrounded Mayor James Lavigne's transportation spending, which includes a 2013 SUV, purchased by the town in March for $37,000, which is not listed in the budget anywhere, along with a $1,000 a year car allowance.
But we took a closer look at the vehicle itself and found a potential problem; it's not identified as town property. The Louisiana law regarding identification of public property states "the name of the board, commission, department, agency or political subdivision... shall be placed on the outside of the door on each side of every automobile, truck or other vehicle."
It also specifies the vehicle has to be marked within 10 days of its delivery.
The law does allow exceptions for law enforcement and certain public officials, but otherwise says anyone not in compliance with the law "shall be guilty of a violation thereof," and every day not in compliance is "considered a separate offense."
We pointed out the issue to the mayor.
When asked why the vehicle wasn’t marked, Lavigne said, “I don't want nobody to pull me over and ask me to fix their ticket or something like that."
Rick Franzo with Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany called our findings “classic good ole boy political theology."
"I think the citizens of Pearl River need to be more inquisitive of that budget. Because you have a budget where he doesn't know where things go and where it's put and why it's not even listed on there. The flags need to go up and say, 'Whoa,'" he said.
The attorney general or any district attorney is tasked with enforcing the law as it relates to identifying town property. Neither would comment on our findings, in relation to the law, for this story.