When the Livingston Parish Council meets Thursday to reconsider how to spend $1 million in extra road funds, the council also will have to reconsider its method of dedicating the money.
The council resolved Aug. 27 to spend the money on the parish’s road overlay program rather than splitting it with a project to extend Juban Road. But the parish legal adviser warned in an email Wednesday that unbudgeted funds can be appropriated only by an ordinance amending the budget. That could push the final decision to within days of the parishwide elections.
Chairman Chance Parent said he called the 6 p.m. special meeting after receiving pushback from constituents who disagreed with the council’s decision to use all the money on the overlay program. He said the residents prefer the money be spent on the proposed new Juban route, which would extend the road north from Florida Boulevard to Lockhart Road and give residents north of Walker and Denham Springs another route to the interstate.
Parent had cast the deciding vote in a 5-4 split against dividing the money evenly between the overlay and Juban projects, but he said this week he was rethinking his decision.
Parent said Wednesday afternoon the council likely will rescind its Aug. 27 resolution dedicating the money to the overlay program, then wait until later this month — after both he and Parish President Layton Ricks return from their respective vacations — to introduce an ordinance appropriating the funds.
Which project will ultimately receive the money, or if the money is split between the two, remains an open question.
The issue has become a tug-of-war between Ricks and Councilman Ricky Goff. The councilman has doggedly pursued the Juban project and had expressed hope the full $1 million would be dedicated to it. Ricks, who certified the availability of the extra funds late last month, said Tuesday he opposes spending those dollars anywhere other than the parish’s overlay program.
At the council’s last meeting, Councilman Jim Norred had suggested the compromise of splitting the funds between the two projects, to which Goff agreed. The two were joined by council members Marshall Harris and Cindy Wale Franz in supporting the failed motion.
Councilwoman Joan Landry, who voted against the compromise on Aug. 27, said she believes a deal still might be struck. Landry, who initially asked that Thursday’s special meeting be rescheduled for those with holiday plans, said Wednesday afternoon she will be at the meeting and hopes the council can reach a decision.
Whatever the decision, the added wrinkle of needing to dedicate the funds by ordinance will delay the outcome.
If the budget amendment ordinance is not introduced until the council’s regular meeting on Sept. 24, it could not be adopted until the council’s Oct. 22 meeting — two days before Election Day. Ricks would then have 10 days from receipt of the adopted ordinance to decide whether to veto it.
Parent said the delay in dedicating the money, even if some or all goes to the overlay work, should not pose any problems in terms of remobilizing equipment. The work crews have a significant amount of work remaining on the priority list, he said, and should still be working whenever the appropriation is finalized.
Landry was less certain: “In 30 days, who knows where the equipment trucks will be.”