Louisiana, Texans CU in Battle Over Idle Cypress Mill
Texans Credit Union is trying to recoup the balance on a $3.2 million loan for a cypress mill that is at the center of a legal showdown between Louisiana and the state’s former agriculture commissioner.
The $1.6 billion credit union in Richardson, Texas approved the loan to Louisiana State Cypress for the cypress mill, which is now sitting idle in Tangipahoa Parish. The company failed when Wal-Mart Inc. stopped buying Louisiana cypress mulch in 2007, which led to the mill shutdown, the Advocate reported.
When Louisiana State Cypress stopped making payments to Texans, the credit union sued the company and the state of Louisiana in 2009 for the balance of the $3.2 million loan, according to the publication.
The loan was made during former Louisiana State Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom’s tenure. Critics said Odom should have sought other state officials’ approval in giving the state’s backing on more than $14 million in debt for the cypress mill, a cane syrup mill and a bond sale.
Louisiana state attorneys want the Texans lawsuit dismissed saying Odom did not go to the State Bond Commission to authorize the guarantee on the loan, the article read. The commission is responsible for overseeing Louisiana’s debts.
When contacted by the Advocate, Odom said he could not remember the guarantee of the loan for the cypress mill.
Mike Strain, Louisiana’s current agriculture commissioner, said he tried to convince the legislature to pay the debt but was turned down because the state did not have the money to pay the loan.
A 2010 judicial district ruling disagreed that the loan guarantee is unenforceable. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeal agreed and the state is now appealing to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
State District Judge Tim Kelley said even if Texans wins, collection may be difficult because separation of power issues prevent the courts from ordering the legislature to appropriate money, the article noted.
Texans was placed in conservatorship by the NCUA April 15.