Port Allen Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter has introduced a new 2013-2014 budget for a public hearing and council discussion in October – a budget nearly identical to the one she issued in June.
The new budget contains identical figures to the one issued in June, with total revenues of about 9 million and total expenditures of about 9.7 million, meaning the city would have to dip into its over $11 million fund balance by about $700,000.
The budget contains a three-page budget message from the mayor nearly identical to the one she issued in June, except for administrative salary information. Her first 2013-2014 budget in June was eventually shot down by the city council, and the city has been running on 50 percent of the 2012-2013 budget since July 1.
The June budget included four pages of individual salary information. The new budget, however, does not contain that information.
“It’s as much a part of the budget as anything,” CFO Audrey McCain said. McCain said without what she calls the “personnel services spreadsheet,” she can’t administer the budget.
After receiving public information requests for individual salary information, Slaughter directed the West Side Journal, on Monday, Sept. 16, back to the June budget.
She said, “The only personnel services spreadsheets or worksheets for the 2013- 2014 fiscal year that have been prepared were those that were attached to the budget presented at the June meeting.”
The figures Slaughter presented in June included salary cuts to the CFO and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and a new $60,000 Community Development position.
Closer inspection of the Sept. budget reveals an extra $60,000 in “Salaries & Wages” for Community Development.
In June, the mayor proposed cutting McCain’s salary by $40,000 and CAO Adrian Genre’s salary by $20,000. McCain and Genre were hired under previous administration, and supporters of the mayor have frequently opposed them in council meetings.
The 2012-2013 budget prepared last year by McCain and approved by the city council in June 2012 estimated revenues of about $7.2 million and expenditures of about $8.1 million.
Slaughter, in her budget message, defines a balanced budget as, “a ‘budget with total expenditures not exceeding total revenues and monies available in the fund balance within an individual fund.’”
McCain said the budget was available for public inspection last year on May 20 until the public hearing on June 12.
Slaughter’s first budget this year was available for public inspection on June 13, the very next day after she presented it to the council. The public hearing was held on June 26, four days before the June 30 end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Initially, a West Side Journal press packet containing the Sept. 11 budget was missing the mayor’s three-page budget message.
Thursday, Sept. 12, the budget was not yet available for public inspection and on Friday, Sept. 13, upon immediate request, the mayor was unable to produce the budget and missing budget message for the West Side Journal to review.
CAO Adrian Genre confirmed there was not a copy of the budget in the building (city hall) available for public inspection as of close of business day Friday, Sept. 13.
According to an ad running in this week’s issue of the West Side Journal, the public inspection period begins Wednesday, Sept. 18 and the public hearing will be held on Oct. 9.
McCain said on Tuesday, Sept. 17, she and Genre still have not received a copy of the 2013-2014 proposed budget presented on Sept. 11. McCain said she asked the mayor for the personnel services spreadsheet, as well, but that she still has not received it.
Slaughter also said she will announce her pick for city attorney in October.
The city has been without a city attorney since Victor Woods’ resignation effective June 30. The city, as of yet, has not advertised for the position.
Slaughter said she has been interviewing candidates and that she is almost ready to make her selection.
“I will make a selection and bring it to the council for approval,” she said.
At the Sept. 11 city council meeting, Council Member Hugh Riviere proposed a resolution for the “governing authority of the city of Port Allen to employ legal counsel.”
Riviere proposed that the council hire Smith Law Firm at a rate of $250 per hour. Smith Law Firm previously represented Riviere and council members R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble in their July 2 case against the mayor.
The resolution was adopted 3-2 by the city council with Riviere, Loupe and Hubble in favor and council members Ray Helen Lawrence and Brandon Brown in opposition.
Slaughter said after the meeting that she will include the firm’s lead attorney, J. Arthur Smith, in the interview process for city attorney.
“I’m ready to also include Mr. Smith in that interview process,” she said. “I will not leave him out, so I will give him that opportunity to come sit down and have an interview with me.”
Council members and the mayor also fought over the adoption of an ordinance formally setting administrative salaries and declaring department heads.
The mayor cited Louisiana law which states that ordinances should contain one subject each.
Hubble countered that with Louisiana case law and the LMA handbook which states that, “ ‘Subject’ is given a broad construction to allow the inclusion in one ordinance of all matters having a logical or natural connection.”
LMA v. Mike Foster, according to a handout provided by Hubble, states that, “A bill is considered to have one subject if the parts of the bill are reasonably related and have a natural connection to the general subject matter of the legislation.”
Riviere said of the dual parts of the salary ordinance, “They do have a logical connection.”
The ordinance passed with Hubble, Riviere and Loupe in favor and Brown and Lawrence in opposition.
The mayor declined to comment on whether she will veto that ordinance. Without a veto, the ordinance officially sets the mayor’s salary at about $85,000 annually with an effective date of July 1.
The city council’s unanimous actions on Sept. 11 included formal adoption of the city’s Master Plan and the introduction of a sign ordinance in the works for many years.
The city council also approved settlements for the following cases: Tremelle Neldare and Dominic Stovall v. Town of Port Allen, Philip Mason v. City of Port Allen/Roger Bergeron/R.J. Loupe and Cenceria Dalcourt v. City of Port Allen/Roger Bergeron.
All council members except Hubble voted in favor of the settlements.