OPELOUSAS — The Board of Aldermen postponed Tuesday approving a pair of general fund budget ordinances for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31 and the fiscal year that starts Sept. 1.
Proposed adoptions for both budget ordinances were on Tuesday’s meeting agenda but after the board voted against approving a 2010-11 amended budget, Mayor Donald Cravins Sr. suggested it would not be proper to discuss the budget for the following fiscal year.
After discussing the matter further, the board voted unanimously to hold a special Aug. 23 meeting at 4 p.m. to consider amending the 2010-11 budget and adopting another budget for the next fiscal year.
Voting “no” to amend the budget for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31 were aldermen Joe Charles, Louis Butler Jr. and Reginald Tatum.
Voting “yes” to amend the budget for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31 were Julius Alsandor, Blair Briggs and Jacqueline Martin.
Although the vote on the amended budget was 3-3, Cravins said he was unable to break the tie because the issue involved an ordinance and not a resolution of the board.
Tatum said he did not want to vote on adopting a 2011-12 budget that reflects a beginning fund balance of $792.
“That’s not a lot of money. I have a hard time amending (the 2010-11 budget), because I don’t know if we have any money,” he said.
During the next two weeks, Cravins said, he would ask the city’s auditing firm to look at each of the two budgets to reconcile the calculations.
The amended budget presented Tuesday indicates a $711,710 deficit that Cravins said is due mainly to the costs of taking general fund sales tax revenues to offset water and sewage department deficits since 2008.
City Clerk Karen Frank said the shortfalls for the department have averaged more than $1 million each year.
In a related matter, the board held a public hearing to discuss increasing the costs of water and sewer bills.
Public Works Director Kim Fontenot said the city currently bills customers a $19.27 minimum for combined monthly water and sewer charges based on the first 2,000 gallons.
According to the proposal introduced Tuesday by Fontenot, those combined bills would increase to $26.11 monthly for the same amount of usage.
If the increases are approved, Fontenot said he is also proposing a 4.5 percent rate increase over the next four years to handle the costs of inflation.
“Raising the rates would eliminate the city from having to input $615,000 a year to help run the water and sewer departments,” said Fontenot.