ARCADIA, La. - A town in Bienville Parish is dealing with financial troubles. To fix that, the mayor of the town of Arcadia laid off four employees and moved three jobs to part time positions. The move shocked one of the former workers.
“I understand we were in financial difficulties and I knew we were, you know, trying to stay afloat, keep our head above water,” said Phillip Smart, the former community development director. “But I did not think that we were at the point where we were going to have to start laying people off, you know, so quickly."
Smart said he wasn’t expecting to be one of the workers laid off. He also said Mayor O’Landis Millican let the workers go immediately.
Millican said the Arcadia Outlet Mall plays a major part in the town’s financial issues. The mall, 43-acres of land, and a drive-through commercial bank all owned by the town are for sale.
KTBS investigated the financial obligations of the town in connection with the mall's purchase in a report published in September 2017.
"You know, leadership brings about, having to make tough decisions, and one of those tough decisions was having to lay people off. I can say this has been my toughest decision in these past 10 months being the mayor of Arcadia as well as you know, in life being 27 years old, this is one of the toughest decision I've ever made in my life," Millican said.
Millican hopes the sales, along with many other ideas, can help replenish reserves. He said more than $300,000 are in the reserves.
The town isn't in debt, but the recent audit report highlighted major losses. The audit showed a loss of $114,000 with the outlet mall.
It also showed a loss of more than $200,000 in the water department. The town is also looking at changing water system charges.
Louisiana Rural Water Association officials encouraged the town to increase water bills from a $10 flat rate to a $12 flat rate. That issue could come up for a vote at the next council meeting, Millican said, as well as unsealing bids on the bank building and property.