AMITE — A $44.5 million operating and capital outlay budget for 2016 was introduced Monday to the Tangipahoa Parish Council.
Director of Finance Jeff McKneely said that the proposed budget submitted by outgoing Parish President Gordon Burgess is a “roll forward” proposition that anticipates no increases or decreases in revenues or expenditures.
McKneely said the proposed budget can be amended after Oct. 24 elections when a new parish president will be elected. Businessman Robbie Miller and former parish councilman Carlos Notariano are vying for the post.
The parish charter requires the parish president submit a proposed budget before Oct. 15, McKneely said.
Improvements to parish roads and bridges are the largest items on the proposed budget with about $12 million tagged for existing roads and an additional $4.3 million for contracts for new roads and bridges.
The proposal sets aside $13 million for the general fund, which finances a variety of parish services such as the offices of the district attorney, coroner, justices of the peace, registrar of voters and numerous other smaller departments.
The budget proposes funding for sanitation services including the parish landfill at about $8 million. Other big ticket items include $2.2 million for Section 8 Housing and $2.2 million for the parish health unit.
In a letter to the council introducing the proposed budget, Burgess wrote that his “pay as you go” road program has continued to be a success. He said the parish realized an increase in sales tax revenues and that this source of income had grown by 4.7 percent over the past year.
He also noted that renovations to the aging Tangipahoa Parish Courthouse had been accomplished, the Florida Parishes Arena Expansion project had been completed and that improvements had been made to the parish jail.
Among the plans for 2016 are the widening of Club Deluxe Road from Morrison Boulevard to U.S. 51 and expansion of the coroner’s office.
Also on Tuesday, the council heard a brief update on the ongoing issue with the storing of shredded tire material at the parish landfill. In June, the state Department of Environmental Quality informed the parish that an excessive amount of the shredded tire material was improperly stored at the parish landfill. DEQ threatened fines of thousands of dollars a day if the matter was not resolved.
Tim Powers, of PPM Consultants, a Baton Rouge environmental science and engineering firm hired by the parish to work with DEQ on the issue, said a plan to resolve the matter was submitted to DEQ on Sept. 30 and is now under review.
Powers said in an interview that the plan will not be released to the public until the review is complete.