- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

ELTON, La. (AP) - An independent audit finds costly water leaks and delinquent utility bills continue to be an issue in Elton.

The audit shows the town’s utility department lost $88,000 last year and that several town employees were at least 30 days delinquent on their utility bills. Both are recurring findings from past audits.

Mayor Cathy Hollingsworth told the American Press (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb ) the town is taking measures to correct the problem.

“We were at a $99,649 loss last year so that number has decreased,” she said.

The town is working to repair water leaks and has made improvements to its sewer plant, she said.

“We are trying to fix our leaks as soon as we find them and we did rehabilitate our sewer plant,” she said. “Everything was better this year and hopefully the numbers will continue to decrease and we will continue to move forward.”

Operating losses in the town’s water and sewage departments have repeatedly highlighted audits since 2007.

Auditors recommended that the town consider increasing water and sewerage rates and decreasing expenses to offset recurring losses in the utility department.

Hollingsworth said it has been awhile since the last rate increase, but said officials will likely have to consider increasing the rates later this year because of expected rate increases from East Allen Waterworks where the town gets its water.

In a separate finding, auditors found unpaid utility bills continue to be a problem for the town.

The finding was first reported in 2009.

The latest audit found that seven town employees were at least 30 days delinquent on their utility bills as of Dec. 31, 2013.

As of March, five of the employees were current and two employees owned a total of $144, Hollingsworth said.

“We are working to collect them,” she said.

Elton has a population of 1,128 with 545 water customers, 515 sewer customers and 497 garbage customers, according to the audit.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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