City Council talks budget, bike lanes, trash pick up

Halen Doughty

A final vote was taken on the amended capital outlay budget. City Clerk Scot Byrd noted there was no net change in spending due to the change. Some dollars were moved out of the regular capital outlay budget into the fire department's budget to provide new radios for firefighters in the city.

An ordinance was introduced to revise the city's rules and personnel procedures regarding sexual harassment. City attorney Erin Lanoux said the city redid it's entire personnel manual, which she reviewed, to include provisions that covered other kinds of harassment and discrimination including racial and gender.

Lanoux noted the revised manual is up to date on the current legal standards for handling such instances. She recommended deleting the sexual harassment policy in the ordinance and replace it with broader discriminatory protections. Byrd said they took time to review the handbook and to make sure there are no inconsistencies. Lanoux said the new policy requires new employees to sign the handbook, which includes the harassment protections, so that everyone is aware of the procedures.

City engineer Jackie Baumann said the Civic Center has passed all of the remediation tests for its reconstruction following the 2016 flood. That means the contractor is free to start putting the building back together.

Baumann also discussed the recent public meeting she held to gather input from residents on ways to improve walking trails and bike paths throughout the city. One issue that's come up multiple times in those conversations is the bike lane on Irma Boulevard, in front of City Hall. During construction of the new East Ascension Freshman Academy, which is on the same street, there were a lot of cars parked along the roadway blocking the bike lane. Baumann said it's a safety issue for cyclists to have vehicles in the designated bike path.

Now that construction on the new academy is complete, Baumann asked the council for its approval to replace the No Parking signs along the street and enforce them to deter drivers from leaving their vehicles in the path of cyclists. Police Chief Sherman Jackson said after giving the public time to adjust to the rule, tickets will be handed out to drivers who park in the bike lane.

Public Works director Alvin Broussard said the city saw a few small water leaks around town as a result of the ice and snow that recently came through the area. None of the leaks were major, he said, and everything is fixable.

Byrd said he and Mayor Barney Arceneaux met with representatives from Waste Pro in regard to the lack of trash pickup during the holidays. He said they promised to improve service by getting all Gonzales customers on the same pickup schedule. Customers who were previously served on Wednesdays and Saturdays will be serviced on Tuesdays and Fridays like the rest of the city. Byrd said this is a significant change that will begin Tuesday, February 13. Recycling will still be collected on Fridays throughout the city.

Follow Halen on Twitter: @LikeVanHalen