Arceneaux vetoes council’s amended budget

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux vetoes ordinances in a press conference at city hall last week.

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said he couldn’t support the move three of the city councilmen were going towards in the 2014-2015 budget and vetoed their budget amendments from the May 12 council meeting.

Arceneaux hosted a press conference on May 21to veto ordinance number 3036, which is an ordinance adopting the amended capital outlay budget. He said after “closely reviewing” the details of the amendments made to the 2014-2015 Capital Outlay Budgets, which was voted on May 12 meeting of the Gonzales City Council, “I feel it’s my duty to exercise my right, veto ordinance no. 3036 adopting the amended budget for June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014.”

“I believe that it is irresponsible and reckless to cut needed equipment from both the police department and fire department,” Arceneaux said. “Such proposals would directly impact the safety, health and welfare of our citizens.”

The councilmen wanted to cut expenses in those departments to provide funding for an $800,000 expenditure for a road study to determine the feasibility of constructing a frontage road along I-10 and South Burnside and South Darla Avenue.

Arceneaux said the three councilmen that voted on the budget amended that he objects to have provided “no information whatsoever as to how an $800,000 cost estimate was arrived at or how it would be spent.”

“I cannot agree to allocate $800,000 to a project surrounded by so many unanswered questions,” Arceneaux said. “I’m even more concerned with the questions that have been raised concerning the significant ownership interest of an immediate family member of one of the councilman who voted in favor of the budget amendment in several of the tracts of land on South Darla Ave. The vote raises serious ethical questions which in conjunction with the public safety concerns known to the public compel me to take action to veto this ordinance.”

Arceneaux wasn’t finished. He also vetoed ordinance number 3034 and said again after reviewing the amendments made to the 2015-2015 Gonzales General Fund Budget, which was acted upon at the May 12 meeting. Ordinance 3034 budget amendment reduces the city’s annual funding of the Ascension Economic Development better known as AEDC from $100,000 to $25,000, a $75,000 cut.

“This reduction will detrimentally affect the operations of the entity whose work has proven to be a great benefit to the city of Gonzales,” Arceneaux said. “I view this reduction as entirely unnecessary, especially in light of the benefits gained from past projects as a result of AEDC’s efforts.”

Again the three councilmen that voted for the amendment reducing AEDC’s allocation of funds “assert” the funds will be better spent on the feasibility study concerning a frontage road along I-10 and South Darla Avenue.

“Those councilmen proclaim that such a road would spark economic development despite the fact the property has proven to be unable to be developed,” Arceneaux said. “However the councilmen have a past voting record of stifling economic development instead of clearing a path for it.”

The mayor’s two veto ordinances will appear on the city’s May 27 council meeting.  It will take four votes of the five-member council to override the mayor's veto when the council meets in that meeting.

The mayor said it’d become a negotiating process if it fails and added the city can be fine for five months with the budget that’s in place right now.

“I don’t want to go five months and in hopes that we will work it out before that,” Arceneaux said.

Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson said he understands the councilmen are the city’s legislators, but said they have to trust him.

“I think the council should have enough trust in me to give us money when I request something if the money is there, I promise you the money is there,” Jackson said at the press conference. “They just want to redirect it somewhere else.”