City of Westlake gets clean audit report

Heather Regan White / The American Press

An audit report in late 2018 of the city of Westlake’s 2017 finances showed zero findings, a far cry from the 14 findings in 2015 when Mayor Bob Hardey took the helm of a city in crisis. Preliminary reports show 2018 will have no findings, either.

The clean audit was just another indication, in a long list over the past year, that Westlake is back.

Westlake is poised to construct a compressed natural gas fueling station, has flipped the liability The National Golf Course of Louisiana once was, lowered millage rates, broke ground on a veteran’s park and installed a new water well, among other accomplishments.

At the December Westlake Council meeting, an agreement was approved with the state for funding for a compressed natural gas fueling station. There is $300,000 in Priority 2 funding and $1.8 million Priority 5 allocated by the state for planning and construction. The city said it hopes to get customers like Dunham Price. Hardey has said fuel sales to just one of the company’s trucks would be equivalent to 200 homes, and he hopes to get them to retrofit at least 25 of their 156-truck fleet.

In November, Westlake residents re-elected Chris Wilrye to serve as police chief, and Betty Bates was re-elected to serve on the council.

Over the past year, development around The National Golf Course of Louisiana has helped flip the golf course from a liability — losing close to $500,000 annually — to an asset. The city sold the land around the course to a developer for around $3.5 million for housing development. The developer is installing $35 million in infrastructure, at no cost to Westlake.

Also in October, the council voted to put a hold on a bond issue they approved in September for the construction of a clubhouse at the golf course. At the council meeting that month, Hardey reported that the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury agreed to cover $750,000 in water, street, sewer and gas projects already funded by the city. The parish also purchased $125,000 in capacity in the city’s new water well in Mossville and a change order to the new maintenance facility at the course brought the original estimate down by $30,000. Freeing up this capital meant the city had the $4.2 million for the clubhouse and did not need to take on any debt.

“The clubhouse is not going to have any debt,” Hardey said. “And we’re going to have the funds, in a line item, for $4.2 million. We’re pretty excited.”

In August, the city broke ground on a half-a-million dollar Veterans Memorial Park at Pinderosa Park. The recreation department is erecting Freedom Hall, a $3 million, 5,000-square-foot building next to the memorial. More than 100 spaces for names of veterans have been sold to date. These will be inscribed on plinths, representing the branches of the U.S. military

In June, residents learned they would see a 10 percent decrease in millage rates after the parish levied taxes at the end of the year.””Westlake Year In Review