SORRENTO — After two years of controversy over its Police Department, the Town Council now has a bit of good news: a proposed 2015-16 fiscal year budget calling for a 3 percent raise for all town employees working one year or longer.
Of course, the good news is somewhat limited: The raise will affect only three of the town’s seven employees, costing an additional $2,500 a year.
The proposed budget — presented to the council Tuesday by Faulk & Winkler accountant Jacob Waguespack — projects $994,000 in revenue and a near $1.1 million in expenditures.
The deficit, which includes a depreciation of the town’s sewer system, is projected to be filled using the prior years’ fund balance, Waguespack said in his budget message.
Council members plan to hold a public hearing and introduce an ordinance proposing the budget’s adoption during a May 5 council meeting.
The town’s fiscal year ends June 30.
Making up 70 percent of the town’s estimated revenue, the projected sales and use tax revenue is expected to remain consistent with 2015 revenues at about $590,000.
Total revenue, however, is expected to drop about 7 percent from last year because the town expects no state or federal grants for projects, Waguespack said.
Expenditures also are projected to decrease, by 9 percent from last fiscal year, because there are no capital projects budgeted in the next fiscal year, Waguespack said.
The public safety budget decreased by $19,375 because of the closure of the town’s Police Department and elimination of the police chief’s position.
Included in the town’s proposed budget is $354,000 for the contract with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office to provide police protection for the town.
The Town Council also tackled other Police Department matters Tuesday, unanimously voting to sell two Ford Crown Victoria vehicles, a handheld radar system and a Taser to the Port Vincent Police Department.
Police Chief Fern Barnett resigned March 21 as part of a settlement with the Town Council over unpaid wages dating to October.
She was the last holdout of a defunct department that has been without liability insurance since November 2013 and without other officers for nearly as long.
The public voted in the fall to abolish the department and the position of police chief, but Barnett hung on until March when the Town Council finally agreed to pay her wages if she would resign.
Barnett ran for police chief when Chief Earl Theriot Jr. was forced to resign after admitting to lying to FBI agents about his role in picking up a drunken woman in his police cruiser and engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with her.
Barnett was considered elected without opposition after the other two candidates for police chief dropped out of the race.