Council adopts pair of budgets

Aaron E. Looney

The Ascension Parish Council voted Thursday to amend its 2008 budget and to adopt its 2009 financial plan.

Meeting in the Parish Council chambers in Gonzales, the council adopted a 2009 budget that features $94.4 million in revenues in its capital and operating budget, with the same amount in expenditures.

The budget also features $35.3 million in interfund transfers.

In other news, community activist Kathryn Goppelt asked the council why $3,000 in funds tabbed for the Beau Porto Special Tuesdays program for the rest of 2008 had yet to be distributed to program founder and director Bobbie Blanchard. Goppelt chided members the council for being reluctant to help the program.

Parish President Tommy Matinez told the council that he has contacted Blanchard and that monies set aside for the program, which has catered to special needs children and adults for the past 13 years, are available but that Blanchard has not picked up the funds. He added that parish legal counsel Lindsey Manda has offered to help draft the necessary paperwork to create a 401c non-profit organization.

“We want to make sure we have all of the bookwork done before we proceed,”?Martinez said. “We all recognize Special Tuesdays as a great program for Ascension Parish. We don’t want to hold it hostage for any reason and want to participate with the organization.”

Blanchard was not present at Thursday’s meeting.

Parish administration budgeted $10,000 for the program in the 2009 budget.

Councilman Kent Schexnaydre asserted that he and his fellow councilmen understand the importance of the program and support its continued efforts.

“I have a very vested interest in the program,”?said Schexnaydre, whose daughter attends the summertime events. “Every one of these council members supports Special Tuesdays 100 percent. We are not, however, going to lend money illegally to any type of organization. We want to do it the right way.”

The council also adopted amendments to its ordinance which governs the parish’s Mental Health and Addictive Disorders department. The changes delineate the mental health board as an advisory board and that the director serves in a supervisory capacity over financial matters and services provided by the department.