The lack of a 2013-2014 budget for the city of Port Allen may be hampering police and fire protection, according to officials.
Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown, who vowed when he took office in January to update the city’s police equipment, said the cars are in poor condition.
“It’s real bad,” he told council members at the Aug. 14 city council meeting.
One police officer explained how he had to purchase a jumper cables to keep in his police unit’s trunk.
“I enjoy serving the public,” the officer said, “I enjoy being here to protect. But if I don’t have the equipment that I need, it’s a set up for failure.”
Brown said he would not use failing equipment as an excuse – that his department would continue to provide police protection – but said the council needs to act “as soon as possible.”
Brown has also said from day 1 that he wants to install computers in the cars, computers that were purchased under previous administration but never installed.
According to a 2013-2014 budget Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter prepared and presented to the city council on June 12, the mayor proposed police department spending of about $70,000 more than the previous fiscal year and fire department spending of about $19,000 more.
Slaughter said in interviews prior to presenting that budget that she wanted to improve equipment for the police and fire departments for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
“I want to make sure the Police Department has the latest technology, such as computers in police cars; and also work to improve the fleet of police vehicles,” she said. “I also want to enhance the technology and fire equipment.”
Discussion of that budget was shot down at a June 26 public hearing, and officials are now pushing for the mayor to work with the city’s CFO to present a new budget to the council.
Councilman Garry Hubble said in June, “Do you realize that safety and services will be decreased by 50 percent if we do not adopt a budget?”
According to former city attorney Victor Woods’ interpretation of the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act, the city can operate at 100 percent of the previous fiscal year’s budget, but only for a period of six months.
Port Allen Fire Chief Rick Boudreaux said the Port Allen Fire Department accepted a $305,000 heavy rescue truck into the station on Tuesday, Aug. 13 but that due to the current situation he was unable to acquire insurance on it.
Boudreaux said on Aug. 7 that his department had exhausted all available funds to make a partial insurance payment in July, prior to their receipt of the heavy rescue truck.
However, Slaughter said after the Aug. 14 city council meeting that she was able to obtain insurance on the truck, effective Aug. 13 until July 1, 2014.