YOUNGSVILLE — Despite some concerns within the Youngsville City Council, the members decided to allow Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux to fill an open position in the Police Department.
Officer Scott Haydel’s reclassification to code enforcement and to patrolling the sports complex had left an opening for a patrol officer that Boudreaux asked to fill.
The chief said a downturn in the local economy usually equates to higher crime rates.
“Many females are left alone with their children for extended periods of time, and these people want peace of mind for public safety” he said. “We are busy. We’re trying to keep up with the growth of the city.”
Boudreaux implemented the Local Compensated Endorsement Program, or LACE, in June, which he said has proven to be successful.
LACE’s funds come from speeding tickets issued by police.
Boudreaux said 43 cents of every dollar generated by LACE go back into the department, and he would be willing to pay the salary of the new police officer from LACE funds.
Councilwoman Lauren Michel said she supported Boudreaux’s request for an additional officer, which would cost about $3,750 per month.
She said she studied recent patrol statistics for Youngsville and found some staggering numbers.
“Consistently, miles patrolled were down, which means they’re busier on nonmoving violations,” Michel said. “Domestic disturbances are way up, weapon charges up seven times, drugs up three times.
“(Youngsville) is fiscally sound, and we are not operating to save money,”Michel said. “We should be using our tax dollars that mirror our citizens’ needs.”
Councilwoman Dianne McClelland, who did vote for the additional officer, said she was concerned with the Police Department’s financial state.
“The money is not there,” McClelland told Boudreaux. “You’re spending too much. I would love to give you everything you need, but the money just isn’t there.”
She said she was concerned there would be unknown expenses that would come up and that the city would not have the money to pay for them.
The Police Department is allocated a 1 percent sales tax and is spending 91 percent of it.
“You may have to make cuts on that 1 percent (sales tax). We cannot afford to go above that 1 percent,” she said.
Sales tax revenue has decreased, but the costs to run the department remain constant, according to Boudreaux. He said as LACE funds continue to increase, he will have a better understanding of how he can afford the increased costs.
“We are still growing, and LACE is generating more revenue,” Boudreaux said. “I would love for LACE to be the capital outlay. I would never have to come to y’all again.”
Councilmen Matt Romero, Ken Stansbury and Jamey Abshire all pointed out that in 2015, the Police Department received more than $750,000 from the city.
Abshire said he supported the department and informed members of the audience that even though the council was questioning its financial well-being, it is necessary to remain fiscally responsible.
“By no means are we saying we don’t want the police force to have what they need,” Abshire said. “We just need to make sure it’s justifiable and make sure the money is there for what they ask for.
“We’d love to give the moon and stars, but we have to watch what we’re doing,” he said.