Update: The Port Allen City Council approved a motion to cover the $185.87 overage expense for the Port Allen City float in the 2019 Black History Parade.
Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee entered a float in the annual Black History Parade he said represented the city, which tipped the $2,500 budget the City Council approved for the event. Now, he’s asking the City Council to cover another approximately $185 overage.
If the Council doesn’t approve the spending, Mayor Lee will have to come up with the money himself.
The Port Allen High School Band of Blue did not show for the parade, reimbursing the city of Port Allen $450. Had the band shown up, the Mayor’s deficit would have been nearly $700.
The float expense is designated as “Float for Mayor Lee & family” in the event budget, which City Council member Gary Hubble questioned.
Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain said the Mayor asked her to pull the funds needed to cover the overage from the Community Development fund for City Revitalization, which is often used to take care of condemnable properties. Under the Council’s new case-by-case event approval system, the funds cannot be pulled from another budget unless approved by the City Council. McCain said she also expressed concerns that the float was considered a campaign expense, which the City cannot provide funds for legally.
“The thing is we just need to move on,” Mayor Lee told the Council. “If y’all don’t want to pay it fine, I don’t have a problem paying it. We need to think about what we do and how we divide things because the other thing is there’s a line item in this budget that could have resolved this without me having to come here and stand before you and the public to air our laundry, okay? We’ve got to learn to work together.”
Councilmembers Ray Helen Lawrence and Carey Williams accompanied Mayor Lee on the float along with Rep. Edmond Jordan and family members of Mayor Lee. Council members Brandon Brown, Gary Hubble, and Hugh Riviere did not participate.
“I did ride in the float Mayor, and I thought it was decorated real nice and I wish I had the $185 to give you, but I don’t,” Lawrence said with a laugh at Wednesday night’s committee meeting.
Council members Riviere and Hubble mentioned the lack of city sponsorship for other local parades like the annual Veterans On parade and Krewe of Good Friends of the Oaks. Hubble, a member of the Board of Directors for the WBR Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the CVB paid the $304 insurance for the Black History Parade.
Hubble and Riviere spearheaded the community event overhaul last year, which requires Council approval for spending for each community event. The new system is an attempt to stop overspending, lack of corporate sponsorship and poorly attended events. It has divided the Council on several activities such as the annual Christmas parade and funding for Parish Councilwoman Charlene Gordon’s annual Family Day in the Park.
“Are we going to sit back behind the desk and just allow our community just to run wild or are we going to take our active role as leaders in this community and do something?” Mayor Lee asked the Council at the end of his speech Wednesday.
The City Council will vote on whether to reimburse Mayor Lee for the overages at the Wednesday, March 14 City Council meeting. The meeting will occur after the West Side Journal goes to press, please visit www.thewestsidejournal.com for an updated article following the meeting.