Leighton Makes Major Changes To Control Climbing Debt

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A small Shoals town is strapped for cash.  Just two months ago, the City of Leighton had only had $1,500 to pay the bills.

But major changes by the mayor are putting Leighton’s budget back in the green.

The sleepy town of Leighton got a wake-up call when an audit uncovered a climbing debt, already close to $300,000.

John Landers knew the town was in bad shape financially when he ran for mayor, but admits, he never imagined the extent of the deficit.  So the town’s new leader vowed to make big changes, and fast.

“We`re not there yet, but we`re making a little bit of progress,” said Landers.

Landers says he and the council made the difficult decision to cut three city employees to part time and overtime is no longer allowed.

“The tough thing is making adjustments in terms of personnel because you are affecting people and their lives and the amount of money they have to operate,” said Landers.

As part of the budget reductions, the police staff has also been reduced.  However the mayor assures residents their safety is still a top priority, and the Sheriff’s Department has agreed to help cover the shifts.

“Like myself, they are not real pleased with having to cut people back,” said Landers.  “But we`re not leaving the town uncovered.”

Landers says while reviewing the city’s financial statements he discovered a long running “gentleman’s agreement” between the former mayor and the water department.

Now, Landers say the town will start collecting garbage money.  According to the mayor, the garbage money will generate about $5,000 each month, which the city will put toward the debt.

With all these changes, the mayor hopes to finally start a positive cash flow to the city’s general fund.