PORT ALLEN — The City Council on Wednesday voted to override Mayor Richard Lee's veto of the 2018-19 fiscal year budget, ending a nearly month-long squabble over the city's spending plan.
The council's action means the administration must abide by the budget as it was unanimously adopted by the City Council on June 13 — minus two of the items on the mayor's wish list.
"I'm not happy about it but I'll accept the council's wishes," Lee said at the end the meeting. "I hope you guys will in the future consider giving our employees the tools they need."
PORT ALLEN — Council members have a week to decide whether they're going to support the mayor's request for a car wash for city vehicles and a…
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Lee vetoed the budget a week after it was adopted because council members removed his request for $70,000 to build a car wash for city vehicles and $60,000 he planned to spend on community events.
The city was operating on 50 percent of its $9.8 million general fund budget from the 2017-18 fiscal year because a new spending plan wasn't in place by June 30.
The two expenditures were the only ones removed from the mayor's proposed $1.1 million in capital outlay spending for the new fiscal year.
The mayor was most passionate about holding onto the funds for the car wash, characterizing the city's fleet of vehicles "deplorable" because employees don't have the tools they need to properly maintain their equipment.
The removal of the items had been done through amendments offered by Councilman Garry Hubble.
Hubble said previously the council should spend money for community events on a case-by-case basis, with the focus on hosting more events through corporate sponsorship. The poor attendance rates for many events wasn't justifying the money it takes to put them on, he said.
And he didn't feel building a car wash justified the mayor's argument about maintaining city vehicles.
Councilman Hugh "Hootie" Riviere echoed those sentiments at Wednesday's meeting, where the mayor made a last-ditch effort to change their minds by offering photographs showing the poor condition of many city vehicles.
"If they need equipment to wash the vehicles, go out and buy three or four Shop-Vacs, a box of rags and a couple gallons of soap," Riviere said. "That's a more economical way to get into this."
Going into Wednesday's meeting, the mayor had only one sure vote of support, from Councilman Brandon Brown.
But in a perplexing twist of events, Brown voted in favor of overriding the mayor's veto, making it a unanimous decision among the five-member body.
Brown said he got confused when the votes were being tallied and voted "yes" instead "no." And when he tried to get the council to reconsider the item in order to change his vote, his motion failed by a 3-2 vote, with Councilmen Riviere, Hubble and Casey Williams voting in favor of keeping the original vote.