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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Council OKs several budget amendments

Council OKs several budget amendments

At its November 27 public meeting and by unanimous vote the Lafourche Parish Council adopted the amended 2019 Operations and Capital Budget as well as setting the salaries of unclassified employees for next year. All members were present.

The proposed budget hits the $104 million mark, lower than last year’s budget by $1 million.

The Council did hear 17 amendments to Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle’s proposed budget; 12 of those were passed, 2 failed and 3 were pulled before consideration.

Of one of the failed amendments, Cantrelle’s administration proposed a raise for the Human Resources Director Emily Knight from $60,000 annually to $70,000 and making it a 40-hour per week position.

Jerry Lafont, Corey Perrillioux, Craig Jaccuzzo, Bo Melvin, Luci Sposito and Jerry Jones voted “nay”.

“Two or three weeks ago, we were trying to get a tax passed because we were broke. Now, we’re giving raises. I can’t vote for this,” said Lafont.

In the second failed amendment, Jerry Jones proposed to create a fund of $30,000 to pay for legal fees for civil service employees who win cases against them.

The council already agreed to pay legal fees incurred by President Cantrelle in an earlier case and Jones wanted the same opportunity for other parish employees.

“We can’t leave employees out,” said Jones.

His amendment failed 2-6 with only Jones and Sposito in favor. Autin was absent.

The amendments which passed were for $200,000 for a pump project in the Thibodaux area, $275,000 for a bath facility at the Raceland Recreation Center, $100,000 for the Chackbay Community Center, $50,000 for restrooms at the Bayou Boeuf Ballpark and $100,000 for District 2 boat launches.

One amendment, to pay $100,000 promised to the town of Golden Meadow during former President Charlotte Randolph’s administration for a seawall project, passed 8-1 with Armand Autin voting “nay”.

Although Autin was not against paying the money, he was against using Executive and Finance Fund monies to pay it.

Other amendments were for $110,000 for improvements at the Thibodaux Courthouse, an additional $100,000 for the Peltier Park turf fields, $107,000 to the City of Thibodaux for recreation and $50,000 for a Raceland Sugar Mill Road project (Daniel Lorraine voted “nay”).

Lastly, the Council amended the budget to raise the salary of Public Works Director James Barnes from $84,000 to $89,000 annually.

Several council members expressed their support of Barnes’ raise, citing his unfailing work ethic and willingness to respond to any problem day or night.

“Every time we needed Mr. James, unless he was with another council member, he showed up. He answered his phone, he met me at constituents’ houses, boots on the ground,” said Bo Melvin.

The amendments totaled a little over $1 million added to the 2019 budget.

Cantrelle has until December 7 to accept the budget or veto amendments.