Mayor Mike Lambert said that although it is a tight budget, the town is hopeful for the upcoming year. He mentioned two new businesses and new developments on the horizon.
The Sorrento Town Council met for their June meeting to adopt, among other things, the 2018-19 Budget ordinance. The budget for this year was presented by CPA Jacob D. Waguespack.
"You're not making any money, operationally. You're not losing any money," Waguespack said. "But if you want to do any kind of capital project in town, you're having to dig into accumulated fund balances that you've acquired over the years."
Mayor Mike Lambert said that although it is a tight budget, the town is hopeful for the upcoming year. He mentioned two new businesses and new developments on the horizon. Sorrento is looking to end its six-month moratorium in the next couple of months. The moratorium on new development is pending the new planning and zoning ordinance, which is expected to be presented either at the July or August council meeting.
"Subdivision regulations have been completed," Lambert said. "Our budget doesn't give us much wiggle room. Some of our priorities rest in getting the planning and zoning done."
Moreover, Sorrento was approved for a FEMA grant to repair the town's sewer system. This comes after the system failure during the 2016 flood exposed its weaknesses.
"Without another revenue source or cutting budgets, this is just where its been," Wageespack said.
However, the town is moving forward arguably in the right direction under Mayor Lambert. This is particularly true for Sorrento employees. The new budget includes a 2 percent raise to town employees.
"They haven't had a raise and quite frankly, they don't get paid enough," Lambert said. "They are tasked with the difficult job of keeping up the Town of Sorrento. The best we could muster was a 2 percent raise."
The public hearing to adopt the ordinance was met with zero comments from the public. Next, when dealing with elected officials or the town clerk salary a separate ordinance must be adopted. This item was also introduced at the meeting.
Another item discussed at the meeting was a cooperative endeavor agreement with the parish to make changes to the way stray animals are cared for. Vice President of Cara's House, the Ascension Parish Animal Shelter, Jolie Culpepper presented the new animal control tax to the council.
"Since we have taken office in 2015, we have paid over $50,000 to the parish," Lambert said. "I hate to say it, but $10,000 for one year is a lot of money for the Town of Sorrento."
Lambert said that in the new tax, Sorrento will not be paying a "pickup fee" that they are currently being charged for. He added that currently it is expensive and hard to account for because it fluctuates often from month to month.
"Some quarters it's nothing, then some quarters it's up to $5,000 dollars," Lambert said.
Culpepper said that one mil would cover parish-wide, alleviating Sorrento from being charged per animal that is brought in.
"It would allow for us to expand," she added, "hire additional animal control officers, which are desperately needed. Currently, we only have two for the entire parish."
A new Cara's House facility is also in order under the proposed changes. Cara's House currently fails the State regulations on every inspection.
"We pass flying colors for the care, the treatment, the condition of the animals, "Culpepper said. "The facility itself fails. The millage will help with all of that, as well as animal services in general."
Parish Councilman Bill Dawson was present at the meeting to elaborate on the animal tax.
"A couple things we're looking at, one is to have an independent board that will oversee animal control and animal shelter, that will be combined under that board," Dawson said. "Obviously, the money would flow into the parish, and the board would budget the dispersement of it."
He said that they are trying to build something that would be more "humane." He added that the location of the new facility probably wouldn't be in the same place, currently 9894 Airline Highway in Sorrento, because of power lines and wetlands ordinances.
Mayor Lambert said he spoke with Gonzales mayor Barney Arceneaux about the new animal tax but not yet with Mayor Leroy Sullivan in Donaldsonville.
Furthermore, the town is still struggling to get rid of the trailer on Payton street. Progress was made. The council declared it a nuisance. Lambert said he is looking into getting it removed immediately.
Lastly, the town millage rate was renewed at 6.210.