Second budget introduced with no interruption

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
: Mayor Barney Arceneaux introduced for a second time a General Fund and Capital Outlay budgets to the city council on June 23.

The City of Gonzales may be one step closer to getting its 2014-2015 General Fund and Capital Outlay budgets approved. At the June 23 council meeting, Mayor Barney Arceneaux introduced a second budget after the initial one failed, after several amendments and ultimately a mayor’s veto in May.

For this time around, Arceneaux made some changes that may please all. At least so it appeared as the council held no discussion after it was motioned for approval.

The new budget includes only a 25 percent cut to the Ascension Economic Development Corporation, after councilman Gary Lacombe amended the initial to cut it at 75 percent.

Councilmen Terance Irvin and Timothy Vessel both voted in April in favor of Lacombe’s major cut to the economic development group, which has shown statistics of its success.

Arceneaux also included $5,000 stipend for the Ascension Community Theatre and $10,000 for the Ascension Balloon Festival. The mayor also shifted $30,000 from Capital Outlay to General Fund for hardware and software upgrades at City Hall.

The total proposed general fund budget now stands at approximately $14 million.

In the capital outlay budget that Arceneaux introduced, the $2 million for capital road improvement projects does not include $800,000 for an I-10 service road study. Councilman Lacombe and Irvin pushed heavily for the study, but Irvin said briefly after the meeting the group will lay off on it “for now.”

Arceneaux didn’t just cut another’s suggestion out; he also erased his own for the proposed capital outlay budget $175,000 for a dog park.

The new proposed capital outlay fund budget stands at approximately $5.6 million.

No amendments to either the general fund or the capital outlay budgets were offered at Monday’s meeting.

The controversy over the budgets and the vetoes has delayed a 2 percent raise for all full-time city employees, which is included in the general fund budget.

Arceneaux and each member of the council met in non-quorum work sessions prior to the meeting. Before concluding, Irvin said to the mayor he’d like to see them continue.

The council will vote on the new budgets at the July 14 meeting.

Gonzales is currently operating at half of last year’s budget but can only do so for five months. The current fiscal year commenced at the beginning of June.