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Steve Moosa, a certified public accountant at Darnall, Sikes, Gardes and Frederick, speaks at Tuesday’s meeting. (Photo by Harlan Kirgan)

City budget tabled

Aldermen sent the city’s next budget back to the mayor citing overtime concerns at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
The vote is surprising because aldermen meet individually with the mayor to prepare the budget, which was presented at the meeting.
Board members Ernie Blanchard and Germaine Simpson moved that the budget be tabled until the next meeting, which is scheduled July 9.
“We want to table the budget because of the overtime basically,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard said he understands the police department is under-staffed in stating his concern about overtime.
“We need to look at the figures,” he said.
Mayor Scott Fontenot said, “Steve and I have met a couple of times on this and so has each council member has had time to read it and talk about this budget.”
He added, “It is up to the council if it wants to go back to the drawing board.”
Steve Moosa, a certified public accountant at Darnall, Sikes, Gardes and Frederick, advises the administration on its budget, said if the Board does not approve a budget for the fiscal year staring in July the city government would operate on 50 percent of the current budget.
If the city government spends 50 percent of the present budget after this month it is possible operations could be shut down, Moosa said.
The mayor’s budget message in the budget presented Tuesday stated:
— Revenues, excluding grants and interfund transfers, are budgeted at $11 .9 million, an increase of approximately $500,000 which is attributable to the additional one-quarter cent sales tax to effective July 1, 2019 with the first monthly deposit expected during September 2019.
— Total revenues of the City is comprised of sales tax ($5.8 million), gas & sewer collections ($2.6 million), property tax ($0.75 million), franchise tax ($0.78 million), intergovernmental ($0.75 million), and other ($ 1.5 million).
— Expenditures, excluding grants and interfund transfers, are budgeted to increase 3% from the prior year budget. The increase is primarily attributable to additional funding for capital outlay ($0.25 million and operating expenditures ($0.10 million).
— Salaries and employee benefits (retirement and health insurance) total $5.65 million, representing 47.5% of the total budgeted expenditures.
— The budget includes $2.4 million for capital outlay, including police ($90,000), fire ($130,000), airport ($300,000), buildings ($350,000), recreation and community centers ($20,000), drainage ($100,000) street overlay ($500,000), wastewater and gas ($65,000) and other ($229,000).
The general budget proposal states the 2019 budget ends at $7,845,770 spent and projects $7,303,775 in expenditures in the 2020 budget. The general fund will begin the year without a beginning balance and end the 2020 year with a $324,935 balance.
The concern about overtime is highlighted in the monthly financial statement given to the Board.
Year-to-date police department overtime in report ended Tuesday is $204,997.90, which is $124,997.90 over budget. However, the police department salaries and wages totaled $987,761.11, which is $237,238.89 under budget. The police department is $112,240.99 under its budget in wages and salaries and overtime.
Year-to-date fire department overtime $238,993, which is $213,993 over the budget of $25,000. Wages and salaries are $627,940.18, which is $72,059.82 under budget. The net is the fire department is operating $141,933.18 over its combined salary and wage and overtime budgets.
The Board approved amending its current budget, which is required if the budget is 5 percent over or under.
Moosa said the original budget have revenues of $15.7 million, but the amendment is for revenue of $16.5 million due to grant money and additional revenue. Expenses were originally budgeted at $16.1 million and came in at $17.4 million, he said.

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