At its May 8 meeting, the Madisonville Town Council enacted a revised animals ordinance that should put an end to the question of exactly what kind of fowl activity is allowed within town limits.

The ordinance places a limit of 20 chickens and one rooster on property of less than one acre and prohibits “habitual squawking or other noise” that “unreasonably disturbs the peace and quiet of, or causes discomfort or annoyance to any person.”

The ordinance does nothing to control chickens or roosters that are sometimes seen roaming certain parts of the town. An earlier version of the ordinance contained a clause outlawing the free-range fowl, but it was struck after a number of residents sided with the birds, saying they were not a nuisance.

The final version of the ordinance attempts to strike a balance between allowing residents to provide their families with fresh eggs and maintaining public tranquillity.

In other business, the council introduced ordinances authorizing the issuance of $2 million in gas utility revenue bonds and establishing a budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

The bonds will cover the cost of extending the town’s natural gas lines to La. 190 in the Goodbee area to serve the growing number of residences there.

The town’s bond attorney, Allan Offner, explained that invitations to bid on the bonds has been extended to all of the banks in the state, and that the low bidder will be known by the time the ordinance comes up for a public hearing and enactment at the council’s June 12 meeting.

Offner has said the bonds should be issued at a very favorable interest rate, since the gas system generates three times as much revenue as is necessary to cover the system’s entire indebtedness.

The proposed 2020 budget, which will also be seen and enacted at the June 12 meeting, anticipates total revenues of $5,895,822, or $985,605 more than the $4,910,217 total expected by the end of the current fiscal year.

Almost half of the revenue, or $2,624,000, will be generated by the town’s gas system, which serves not only the town but a large and growing part of the surrounding area. The budget also anticipates $630,261 in other utility fees, $1,140,000 million in sales, property and beverage taxes, $903,561 in grants and $300,000 in traffic fines.

Major expenditures include $1,667,046 in salaries, overtime and benefits, $133,318 in police department operating expenses, $1 million in gas purchases, and $1,514,770 in capital improvements.

Council members also discussed progress on the implementation of the town’s proposed master plan and annexation of a large area north of town.

After a long public debate on whether adopting the master plan — which seeks to guide the development of the waterfront and downtown area — would legally obligate the town to implement everything it contained, the council decided to seek professional opinions on the question.

On the annexation issue, Mayor Jean Pelloat asked the council whether he should continue to pursue it in the absence of a clear consensus by town residents. After Brad Haddox and several other council members expressed support for the idea, they voted to continue exploring the possibility.