Gonzales picks new police station spot

Wade McIntyre
The Gonzales City Council selected the site of the city’s old swimming pool on Cornerview to build its new police station.

Based on recommendations from Police Chief Sherman Jackson and former chief Bill Landry, the Gonzales City Council approved at the regular meeting Monday a site for the proposed new city police station.

In a presentation to the council, Jackson said a 10-person committee appointed to find a spot also agreed with the choice of a roughly 2 1/2  acre site the city owns at the old town swimming pool on Cornerview and Francois streets.

A motion introduced by Councilman Terance Irvin and seconded by Councilman Kenny Matassa passed 4 to 1 for selection of the site, with Councilman Ronald “Joe” Waguespack opposing.

Waguespack said it was “a little early” to chose a site without hiring an architect, and that he was “not real keen” on getting rid of the small green space park the city maintains at the location where the new station would be located.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux said he encouraged Jackson to consider the selected location to save money because the city owns the property.

Matassa said he liked the location because the new station needs to be as close to city hall as possible “because of the way we do business.”

Closeness to city hall and the courthouse were factors in making the site the best choice, Landry said.

In other business, the council introduced its 2009-2010 budget during the regular meeting Monday, including a proposed $22,565,500 capital outlay package.

The overall budget includes a 3 percent raise for all employees, and an increase of in city contributions to the Municipal Police Employees Retirement System from 9.5 percent to 11 percent.

The city will also absorb an expected 8 percent increase in health insurance premiums for employees.

In an effort to stem recent personnel losses in the Fire Department, the budget proposes moving firefighters onto the regular city pay scale at Range 8 from the current scale used by the department.

City Clerk Clay Stafford said the change would increase firefighter base pay roughly 10 percent.  Another move would see six firefighter slots converted to captain pay at the city Range 9 rate.

The Fire Chief would be moved up from Range 19 to 20, resulting in a five percent increase in pay at the top end of the scale, while the secretary to the chief would move from Range 4 to 5 and also receive 5 percent more pay at the high end of the range.

Stafford said the city plans also plans to create a Director of EMS position in the department for handling medical operations within the department.

The  capital outlay budget includes spending on road overlays and street widening, building more turn lanes, sidewalk construction, sewer rehabilitation, drainage, recreation, utility services and construction of a new water tower servicing Cabela's retail outlet.

The city expects to take in $9,800,000 in sales tax revenues for the year, according to Stafford. A total of $2,450,000 from these revenues will be allocated to the police, fire and sanitation departments for their capital outlays.

The total fire department projected budget is $2,383,100, down from $2,513,500 last year. The proposed police department is $3,994,300, down from $4,600,600 budgeted last year.

In another unrelated matter, the council agreed to allow RV’s to continue parking in front of city hall for the Jambalaya Festival, but without using hookups for water or electricity.