Mayor cites vendor issue in refusal to settle bills
“The Fire Department, city of Youngsville and everyone is buying locally. I have even reprimanded my employees for not doing so. If we can’t buy locally from our people, how can we expect them to stay in business?” Wilson Viator, Youngsville mayor
YOUNGSVILLE — The City Council voted unanimously to pay a pile of bills that Mayor Wilson Viator had decided not to pay because Police Chief Earl Menard did not use local vendors.
The unpaid vendors, some of which sent invoices to the Mayor’s Office as far back as seven months ago, included Occupational Medical Clinics, in Lafayette; Delta World Tire, Lafayette; Master Lube, Broussard; and Roland’s Auto Repair, Broussard.
Viator said he authorized his secretary to pull the invoices and leave the bills unpaid.
“For the rest of my term, I am not paying them,” Viator said.
“The Fire Department, city of Youngsville and everyone is buying locally,” the mayor added. “I have even reprimanded my employees for not doing so. If we can’t buy locally from our people, how can we expect them to stay in business?”
Invoices from Roland’s and Occupational Medicine were sent as far back as October, from Delta World Tire in June and from Master Lube in May; 59 invoices from those four vendors totaling $7,569 went unpaid.
Menard said he tries to deal with businesses in Youngsville as much as he can, but sometimes, the better deal is with businesses that the department has used for more than 20 years.
“These vendors are supplying a service,” Menard said. “It is shameful that they have not been paid. They deserve to be paid.”
Council members said they were not aware that the bills were going unpaid.
Viator said he wants the Police Department to use Chabill’s Tire and Auto Service, 2627 Bonin Road, Youngsville.
Menard said he has tried on multiple occasions to have vehicles serviced at Chabill’s for flat tires, but was told the tires could not be repaired. Menard said he feels Chabill’s was trying to sell new tires.
“I brought the same tires to Delta and they were fixed,” Menard said. “My No. 1 priority if the safety of my men and women. Secondly is to do the very best with taxpayers’ dollars. We try to deal with people in Youngsville as much as possible, but I have gained these businesses’ trust and I will continue to deal with them.”
Councilman Tim Barbier, who also doubles as Youngsville’s fire chief, said the fact that the bills were left unpaid does not reflect well on the city.
“This is a shame that we have small businesses that have not been paid,” Barbier said. “That is a poor reflection on the city. At the Fire Department, we buy our tires from Chabill’s; we don’t buy everything there. I have a relationship with some businesses for a long time.”
Barbier said he won’t abandon those trusted relationships for “the new kid on the block, adding that, “This is micromanaging a department, something we sat up here and said we would not do.”
Councilman Ken Ritter said the mayor’s heart was in the right place, but it was misguided to withhold payment from the vendors.
“I think it’s a difference between policy and preference,” Ritter said.
“I support the Chamber and I support ‘Shop Youngsville,’ but there has to be some level of trust to an administrator that they will be choosing vendors that have a great price and trust,” Ritter said.
“I just don’t see an attempt from the Police Department to give this business a chance,” Viator said. “I am trying to force him to give these people a chance.”
Viator said he spoke to the owner of Chabill’s and the owner said he would match any price on any service the police department needed and that Chabill’s would stock any tire the department needed.
The council asked Menard to comparison shop in Youngsville before spending money elsewhere. Menard agreed. The council also agreed to always pay bills on time in future.
“We cannot delay paying our bills again,” Councilwoman Dianne McClelland said.