Parish President Charlotte Randolph offered Lafourche councilmen and residents their first opportunity to publicly comment on her proposed 2015 budget at the November 11 Lafourche Parish Council meeting in Mathews.
The $100,225,287 budget has been in the hands of councilmen (and on the parish government website) since September 23rd, but Tuesday’s meeting was the first of three forums at which the public can make comments or offer changes.
By comparison, 2014’s amended current budget total is $74,542,117, while the 2013 audited budget was $79,884,327.
The highlight of the proposed 2015 budget is the addition of $6,761,960 to the Capital Budget for new and existing projects, bringing the total funding for proposed projects and ongoing work in the parish to $35,757,284.
Some of the more important projects for 2014 were the purchase of new pumps and other equipment for Public Works, RSTD-A road improvements, the West 111th Street Drainage Project, Golden Meadow Oak Ridge Park improvements, installation of a backup server and generator to continue necessary parish services during emergencies, and other road maintenance projects throughout the parish.
Major activities for 2015 include a $300,000 data and telephone network upgrade for parish government, a $200,000 new roof on the sheriff’s office, and a $1,000,000 South Lafourche Channel Widening project.
According to Public Works Director Don Edwards, the preliminary plan for the Channel Widening project is to widen and deepen the outfall canal at Pump Station #6 near the Bretton Canal.
Improving the channel will allow the pump station to operate at 100% capacity, said Edwards.
In her introductory letter to the proposed budget, President Randolph estimates that the parish will collect about $15 million in general sales taxes and nearly $24 million in ad valorem taxes next year.
In addition, combined funding from grants, state revenue sharing, as well as fees, licenses, permits and other sources will bring into the parish about $40 million.
The parish’s total outstanding debt as of the end of 2014 stands at $43,475,000 and combined total of principal and interest due in 2015 is $4,063,531, according to the proposed budget.
Randolph also noted at Tuesday’s meeting that although the cost of health care benefits to parish employees has risen 10%, the increase will be paid entirely by government funds and not by increasing payroll deductions of employees.
A second public forum to address the budget was to be held on Wednesday, November 12, but only four councilmen were in attendance at the 5 p.m. meeting start time. Without a quorum present, the meeting was cancelled and no future public hearing dates have been given.
The 2015 proposed budget is available for public viewing at the Lafourche Parish Government Complex in Thibodaux and on the parish website at www.lafourchegov.org.
Posted on Fri, November 14, 2014
by Buster Avera, Contributing Writer