OPELOUSAS — Although the mayor got the votes he needed to amend the current budget and adopt the one for the new fiscal year, he took issue with the one “no” vote cast Tuesday night.
The Opelousas Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 to both amend this fiscal year’s budget and to adopt a general fund operating budget for the fiscal year beginning Sept. 1. Alderman Julius Alsandor cast the lone “no” vote, saying that after examining both the amended and proposed budgets, he “was still unclear about some of the numbers.”
That brought a retort from Mayor Reggie Tatum: “Why didn’t you say you had questions at the Budget Committee? The (committee) voted unanimously to send it to a full meeting of the aldermen.”
Alsandor replied, “I’m just concerned about what this (amended) budget is proposing and what we might do differently.”
“All we’ve done,” Tatum said, “is take what is was placed in the budget by each (city) department head and then add the 2.5 percent (annual employee pay raises). … It’s not rocket science. We’ve taken what was spent and what was received, so this budget is real. This is what it is going to be.”
Dana Quebedeaux, who represented John S. Dowling, the accounting firm that prepared both budgets, said the amended budget shows that the city received 1.1 percent more in revenues than originally anticipated and spent 1.4 percent more than was proposed when the budget was first adopted.
Quebedeaux said the amended budget also shows the city’s revenues “are OK.”
Police Chief Donald Thompson said in an interview that the 2015-16 budget contains his request for $120,650 in equipment for the Police Department.
At the Aug. 11 meeting, Thompson requested funds for stun guns, improved body armor vests and gloves for examining crime scenes for his officers.
In another matter, after a closed session, the board agreed to discontinue any further litigation involving former city Public Works Director Ron Turner.
Turner’s attorney, Phil Roberts, said in an interview later that a hearing regarding Turner’s case is set before state District Judge Alonzo Harris on Sept. 4 in 27th Judicial District Court.
Turner filed a civil lawsuit against the city in 2011 requesting his reinstatement as public works director in addition to money he alleges is owed to him after he was removed from the position by former Mayor Donald Cravins Sr.
Following a 2012 hearing, Harris ordered the city to reinstate Turner as the public works director and pay him any wages owed to him in addition to interest.
Robert said Turner, who was never reinstated, is owed about $90,000 in back pay by the city.
After the meeting, City Attorney Jarvis Claiborne would not elaborate on the board’s decision.
“The board’s decision is just what it says: discontinue all further legal proceedings,” Claiborne said.