UPDATE: St. Joseph mayor responds to lawsuits - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

UPDATE: St. Joseph mayor responds to lawsuits

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UPDATE:

ST. JOSEPH, La. (KNOE 8 News) - In Monday night's meeting of the St. Joseph Town Council, the mayor spoke about several lawsuits against the town.

According to Mayor Edward Brown, the audit's that St. Joseph has filed on behalf of the joint gas line in St. Joseph-Newellton, have never been late. However, Newellton's Attorney Jim Paxton says they've been untimely for three years, causing Newellton's audit to be late as well. That's why Newellton is suing for control over the administrative duties on the gas line.

In another lawsuit, the gas company Locust Ridge is suing both towns because the gas bill isn't being paid in-full. Owner William McDonald says the rate changed in November, but St. Joseph is still paying the old rate.

Mayor Brown says he won't pay the new price, because he never agreed to it, but McDonald says not only did the mayor agree to the new contract, he's the one who wrote the proposal.

Neither of the lawsuits have a set day in court at this point.

Previous story:

ST. JOSEPH, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Jim Paxton serves as the Sixth Judicial District Attorney, which means he represents both the towns of St. Joseph and Newellton in criminal matters. But in a civil suit filed by Newellton against St. Joseph, he's taking Newellton's side.

Newellton and St. Joseph share a gas line, which requires a yearly audit. St. Joe is the administrator of that account and Paxton says mismanagement is causing Newellton undue hardship.

"For the last three years, it’s been untimely and Newellton can't file its audit. You see it has a joint line component in its audited. So the joint line has to be audited and that's furnished to the town of Newellton and the town of St. Joe and then the town of Newellton would file its audit. And for three years it’s been late,” Paxton said.

Paxton said basically, Newellton just wants the administrative rights to the gas line.

And that's not the only lawsuit St. Joseph is involved in.

Locust Ridge Gas Company, the owner of the pipeline, said they are not getting their bills paid in full.

We spoke to the owner of the gas company, William McDonald, by phone.

He said he gave St. Joseph six months to renegotiate their contract and he was ignored. He said he even granted them two extensions.

McDonald said after months of being ignored, the mayor of St. Joseph actually offered the company a new contract and they agreed to those terms. However, McDonald said St. Joe is still paying the old rates and those rates won't cover his operating expenses.

The gas company has also named Newellton in the suit, even though McDonald acknowledges Newellton came to the table during renegotiations. But he said, ultimately, it's a joint account and both parties are still responsible.

Paxton said that is precisely the reason Newellton wants control of the account.

'One of the reasons we have gotten so aggravated is because Locust Ridge Gas Company nearly terminated the service in the dead of winter this year and it is when we had a really cold week. And that was about the time the owner of Locust Ridge couldn't get any response from St. Joe and that is what we are concerned about. We don't want that to happen again."

At last check, neither lawsuit has a set court date.

We've reached out to both town mayors for comment.

Newellton Mayor Timothy Turner was unavailable today, while St. Joseph Mayor Edward Brown has not returned our calls for a month.

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