Gonzales City Council approves ’14-’15 budget; Mayor eyes veto

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley

The Gonzales City Council voted 3-2 Monday to adopt the amended General Fund and Capital Outlay budgets for 2014-15.

After months of delay, debate and even a veto the city may be moving towards progression. However, Mayor Barney Arceneaux said after the meeting he would greatly consider exercising his right to veto.

“I’m going to look at it tomorrow,” Arceneaux said after the meeting. “I still believe [Ascension Economic Development Corporation] should have at least $75,000, that’s their request. I still believe that Chief Jackson should have his nine units, that’s his request and I’m going to support both of them.”

Council members Gary Lacombe, Timothy Vessel and Terance Irvin voted in favor of the amended budgets, with Kenneth Matassa and Kirk Boudreaux being against the changes that gives $50,000 for the AEDC, instead of $75,000, and about $110,000 less than requested for the city’s Police Department, giving it a budget of approximately $327,000.

“You can call it what you want, but it’s fighting public safety that we are here to do for our citizens,” Arceneaux said. “They love to say, ‘I’m doing it for our citizens,’ but that’s not doing anything good for our citizens.”

Gonzales’ fiscal year began on June 1, but the city’s two primary budgets have yet to take effect. Boudreaux and Matassa both echo the mayor’s feelings towards AEDC and the police department. While Matassa said it’s very important to give the city’s employees their pay raise, which would come out of the General Fund, it’s important to get the police to have his tools at this day and age.

“We have a lot of stuff going on and we need to continue working with those guys,” Matassa said. “And AEDC, they can’t operate with $50,000.”

Arceneaux showed on May 21 he won’t shy away from a veto either. After the same 3-2 council majority adopted different versions of the General Fund and Capital Outlay budgets on May 12, he called a press conference to halt it.

In Monday’s meeting, Chief Sherman Jackson was not in attendance, but was represented by Assistant Chief Leland Sykes. Lacombe said with the $327,000 the police department will be able to buy its nine cars that it asked for.

“There are ample funds to cover the nine police cars that are requested,” Lacombe said.

Sykes said Chief Jackson believes the request he made is “essential to continue providing professional law enforcement services to the citizens of Gonzales.”

Arceneaux has ten days to exercise the mayoral veto.