Port Allen budget battle problems
POSTED: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 4:20pm
PORT ALLEN, LA (NBC33) — People living in Port Allen are scared their city could be headed for a financial crisis if city leaders can't move forward with a new budget. Council members got their first look at the mayor's budget Wednesday night. The community hasn't gotten a chance to check it out for themselves.
"I think it's gotten to the point where it's so late that the council won't have enough time to review it, for it to take effect July 1, to do a good job to review it," Bootsie Crochet, Port Allen resident, said.
Port Allen city council has to approve a new budget by June 30 in order for that budget to take effect on July 1. If nothing gets decided by then, the city will be forced to continue working on 50 percent of its current budget. City officials say that could be a big problem.
Audrey McCain, Port Allen chief financial officer, said,"At some point you are going to run out of money. At some point if I only have 50 percent of the money to so, spend at some point I'm not going to be able to pay payroll."
McCain says the budget was not formally announced because technically there was no motion or second to approve the introduction of the budget.
There is a public hearing on the budget set for June 26.
People we talked with say they worried city leaders are spending too much time talking about court battles and not enough time figuring out the city's future.
The meeting was a little quieter than previous meetings, and there was a large police presence to keep the crowd quiet.
The mayor tried to defend her position ending the meeting with a "Did I divide the city no. The city was divided before I even stepped foot into the office. "
People are fed up with the fighting between the mayor, the council and the cfo. They thought the new budget could be a chance to find out where the city is going.
But with a little more than two weeks to go till the budget is due, people living in Port Allen still have no idea where their money is going.
"I think it's very important to the city, because we do not know as citizens what is in there. It's of a concern," Crochet said.
Crochet is scared for the city's future.
"I have no idea why she has waited this late to other than to pressure them to accept it," She explained.
Other residents like Caster Brown, say the city is going to be fine.
"She is the head and I think the budget has to go through her. I think we are going to have a wonderful budget. The city is going to move forward once we get to look at it and they vote on it," Brown described.
Crochet says the fighting is starting to wear down the community: "I can only imagine the stress for the employees all the employees in city hall, because if you defy her you could be fired."
Brown understands the mayor's position, and hopes things can settle down soon.
"There is going to be change," Brown said. "There is going to be friction when you go about change people have to get used to it. We got a new sheriff in town, and she is going to run this town the way it's supposed to be ran."
The mayor's budget shows significant cuts to the city's chief financial officer and chief administrative officers salaries. The mayor's salary would be $84,961.