Mayor’s Capital Outlay Budget veto stands
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux for the third time vetoed the city’s Capital Outlay Budget siting his passion for public safety. In a press conference at City Hall on Sept. 17, Arceneaux passed the General Fund Budget after a four-month process of back and forth with the council. Arceneaux said it was time to give the city’s employees their pay raises. At Monday night’s Council Meeting, the Capital Outlay Budget veto stood, for the third time as well.
“The citizens know I have passion about the public safety and feel we should give the police department the tools they need to fight crime,” Arceneaux said about his veto of the Capital Outlay Budget.
Arceneaux believes the “cuts to the police departments funding” will affect the citizens and a third veto is price he’s willing to pay “in order to fight with the necessary tools to protect the citizens of Gonzales.”
In regard to the general fund, Arceneaux said he continues to highly value the Ascension Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and “I disagree with the cuts forced on them by the three councilmen.”
“I do feel the city’s operations can no longer stand to linger in the indefinite state of flux that we’re in,” Arceneaux said. “Our staff needs to be able to move forward with some certainty that budgeted funds will be available to support needed initiatives and operations of this city.”
“Most importantly, city employees have waited almost four months now for the two percent cost of living raise that was promised to them,” Arceneaux said. “I hope everyone understands I have been forced into this position by three councilmen.”
The three councilmen being Timothy Vessel, Sr., Gary Lacombe and Terance Irvin, all who have argued to “level off spending” across the board in all city departments. However, the three councilmen have been in favor of giving city employees the raises in the General Fund Budget, which includes raises to the police department. The three councilmen stressed giving the AEDC $50,000 for the fiscal year, rather than the mayor’s request of $75,000.
The mayor says the two sides have been unable to find common ground on that issue “as this has been the case so many times.”
“I sincerely hope that with the help of the citizens of Gonzales we are able to find an ultimate solution to this gridlock and move the city forward and to the exciting and challenging times ahead and that we are all know Gonzales to be,” Arceneaux said.
At the press conference last week, Police Chief Sherman Jackson said he agrees with the mayor.
“I think it’s important to move on with the General Fund,” Jackson said. “We are forced into this situation.”
As for Capital Outlay, Jackson said it is important to the police department and important to the regular citizen for the department to “maintain and have the proper equipment we need to get the job done.”
Arceneaux agrees with Jackson's request for $437,000. But each time he has submitted that amount, the council majority of Irvin, Lacombe, and Vessel has reduced it to $327,000, which they say is an average of the police department's spending over the last five years.
Jackson asked for more money to purchase surveillance cameras and nine new patrol cars. He has said some of his cars are in bad shape.
“The mayor and I work in the day-by-day operations of the city,” Jackson said. “We work for the people, we work for you. The bottom line is we know what we need and we know what it takes to get the job done to keep the city safe, keep businesses growing. So put your faith in us and convince your council to agree with us in the future.”