The Harahan City Council on Thursday rejected three measures that proponents said would help increase transparency in the city’s government.
A 3-2 council majority said the measures, proposed by Councilman Craig Johnston, would be either redundant or premature.
The first ordinance would largely have duplicated the existing budgeting process, with the exception of requiring that the budget for each year be adopted by Jan. 1.
The second would have required proposed budgets to be posted on the city’s website as soon as they are submitted to the council; adopted budgets would have had to be posted within 15 days of adoption.
The third measure would have required the posting of public contracts.
Johnson noted that all the candidates in the fall election campaigned in favor of transparency, but with each vote, his ordinances could muster the support of only one other council member, Dana Huete.
Councilwoman Susan Benton, who was joined in opposition by members Carrie Wheeler and Tim Baudier, said she found the Jan. 1 budget deadline in the first ordinance to be the only new element, and she said that is largely undermined by the fact that the budget can be, and often is, amended throughout the year.
“It almost seems like making a law just to make a law,” she said.
Huete said previous councils have been the object of ridicule for not being able to pass a budget on time.
The ordinances requiring the budget and contracts to be posted online were met with doubts that the city has the staff and the technological wherewithal to comply with such a rule.
Baudier said he could support those ordinances in a few months after the new council and administration get their feet on the ground and he is sure the city has the technology to comply.
Mayor Tina Miceli said that while she’d like to see the city put the resources in place to modernize its operations, she has inherited an office that still writes out receipts by hand.
City government, she said, is stuck in the era of “Laverne & Shirley” — a reference to the punch clocks the 1970s television characters used at work in the show’s introduction.
It was not clear where Miceli stood on the ordinances. She refused to answer questions after the meeting as she hurried into a nearby office.
Johnston and Huete said they found the objections to the ordinances to be little more than excuses, with Johnson calling the failure to enact any such measures two months into the new council’s term “a joke.”
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.