LIVINGSTON — Road overlay projects, new employees and a major river dredging project are among the priorities that will be funded next year in Livingston Parish.
The Parish Council on Thursday unanimously adopted the 2019 budget with a minimum of discussion over the spending priorities.
The parish government is responsible for funding items such as roads, jail, health unit, drainage and animal control. It also makes mandatory contributions to several other parish agencies, including the district attorney and the coroner.
The parish government is funded primarily through grants and local property and sales taxes.
Livingston Parish Finance Director Jennifer Meyers described the annual budget as "quiet," because there are few unknowns at this point for major projects. She said in an interview that the effects of the August 2016 flood on the annual budget appear to be over.
The parish is expecting to bring in $57 million in revenue and spend $66 million.
Meyers said higher expenditure figure reflects projects planned for 2019 that were funded in 2018, such as roadwork and the dredging project.
Livingston Parish officials are anticipating sales tax revenues will continue to increase in 2018, paving the way for the parish to spend $6.5…
The revenue projections include $18 million in sales tax revenue that funds roadwork and the parish jail. That is a modest increase from 2018, when taxes proved more stable than feared in the second year since the flood.
That increase in revenue, however, is followed by an increased demand for services that the parish is trying to meet, Meyers said.
In order to keep up with increasing calls for service, the parish has decided to fund an additional work crew in the public works department to deal with drainage, potholes and signs, Meyers said.
Another increasing cost for the parish has been the coroner's office, which Meyers said is handling more deaths and mental health issues. She said the coroner has requested an additional employee.
With things stabilizing since the August flood, the parish is again putting money into roadwork. In 2018, the parish allocated $8 million toward asphalt overlay and plans to make the same investment next year, she said.
WALKER — The road overlay program in Livingston Parish will get an extra infusion of cash, as sales taxes in the parish are exceeding earlier …
Another major expenditure on the books for 2019 is an $8 million dredging project in the mouths of the Amite and Blind rivers in lower Livingston Parish. That project is using Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act bonds, which are supported by oil and gas revenues. The bonds were sold this fall.
The parish jail is one cost that remains uncertain, however. The parish's 2019 budget anticipates costs at the jail to exceed revenues by $172,000 next year.
But that number can jump around if more people are sent to jail or the parish must pay medical costs for a very sick inmate.
This year, an amended budget shows the parish is projected to shell out $1.4 million more than projected in jail costs, due to costs of inmates housed outside the parish, medical bills and pricey upgrades and repairs.