The Natchitoches City Council voted to adopt the Budget for the City Of Natchitoches for the Fiscal Year June 1, 2023 through May 31, 2024 on May 8 after tabling the agenda item at its April 24 meeting.
General Fund – $20,590,175
Proprietary Fund (Utility) – $49,038,082
Special and Capital Project Fund – $26,90,876
Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said there were comments expressing concern at the April 24 Council meeting over “things being done differently.”
“It’s pretty much the same as last time,” he added.
One of the biggest concerns expressed on April 24 was over the grant writer situation locally and what was proposed in the budget.
“There’s a cost associated with when you win,” said Williams. “The whole point is that it’s better to pay a $250,000 fee cause you’re getting a $2 million value. That’s kind a no brainer. It’s not cheap to do it and there’s a lot of work that goes into it.”
Council member Dale Nielsen said that part of the reason for passing the budget is because the City is up against a hard deadline of June 1.
“There is one bone of contention with the Council on the one salary item,” he added. “I would respectfully ask that you go back and revisit that. There were part time numbers that I sent in that did not show up on this. My concern partially is that you’re probably to the level, you need full time. That matches those numbers. Part time with this much on the books is going to be kinda hard to do and you’re trying to get a premium salary for a part time position.”
Council member-at-large Betty Sawyer-Smith said she agrees with Nelson. The Council are stewards over tax payer monies and should be making sure it’s spent wisely and in the best way possible.
“The way it’s being done…I don’t think it was done properly,” she said. “We weren’t aware of some things and I think it’s a big amount for a part time position.”
Mayor Williams said a full time position would come with benefits, which would increase the $70,000 amount to around $100,000 (30% markup on overall costs of an employee).
Council member Harrington said if they don’t pass the budget, it would affect all the pay increases they’ve worked diligently for for other employees. There were several meetings regarding their pay increase, which were all nickeled and dimes through the process.
“For this part time position not one of us on the Council had any knowledge of it, of a 69% increase,” Harrington said. “No one spoke to us about it. We never had a single meeting about it, yet we were ‘nickel and diming’ police and fire increase…We’re holding the pay increases that we fought for hostage by not voting for this because of one that we had no input on or knowledge of. That doesn’t sit well with me. That’s not how things should be done…I’ll vote to pass the budget for all other positions, but in protest.”
Mayor Williams added that, for him, the increase for the grant writer is a “no brainer” because of the results.
Smith added that the Council doesn’t want to not pass the budget.
“We were given the impression that when we did the utility increase, putting that burden on tax payers, that monies would be going toward workers, firemen, and police to increase their pay ($10-$15 an hour), and here part-time ($30 an hour)…We don’t want to put a hardship on any of these workers that are working, but transparency is very important.”
Other agenda items included:
Declare May 7 – 13, 2023 As National Travel And Tourism Week In The City Of Natchitoches
Declare May 20, 2023 As Kids to Park Day In The City Of Natchitoches
Declare May, 2023 As Mental Health Awareness Month In The City Of Natchitoches
PLANNING & ZONING – INTRODUCTION:
Amend Ordinance No. 64 Of 2001 By Changing Zoning Classification Of Property Described As Follows: Lot 190 Feet Front North Side Mill Street As Shown on Plat in Conveyance Book 317, Page 884 (104 Mill St.)
MOTION TO TAKE ORDINANCE NO. 024 OF 2023 FROM THE TABLE
ORDINANCES – FINAL:
Authorize A Franchise In Favor Of Paul’s Party Boat, To Operate A Tour Boat Business Within The City Limits Of The City Of Natchitoches, Confirming The Term Of The Franchise, Conditions, And Consideration For Said Franchise And Authorizing The Mayor To Execute The Said Franchise Agreement On Behalf Of The City Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.
ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:
Adopt the Millage Rate For The Tax Year 2023.
Award The Bid For A Digger Derrick Truck For The City Of Natchitoches Utility Department (Bid No. 0659)
Declare Certain Buildings Unsafe And Recommending That Same Be Demolished Or Put Into Repair To Comply With The Building Code, Authorizing Notice To Be Served, Fixing Hearing Date And Appointing Curator To Represent Absentees
Amend The 2022-2023 Budget To Reflect Additional Revenues And Expenditures.
Amend The 2022-2023 Budget To Reflect Additional Revenues And Expenditures. (Jefferson Street Sink Hole Project)
Levy An Additional Sales And Use Tax Of Two Percent (2%) And An Additional Hotel Occupancy Tax Of Two Percent (2%) In The Natchitoches Economic Development District F, State Of Louisiana (The “District”); Designating The Full Amount Of Such Newly Levied Additional Sales And Use Tax And Hotel Occupancy Tax As The Local Sales And Use Tax And Local Hotel Occupancy Tax In The District From Which The Local Sales And Use Tax Increments And Local Hotel Occupancy Tax Increments Will Be Determined And Used To Finance Economic Development Projects In Accordance With And As Authorized By Part II, Chapter 27, Title 33 Of The Louisiana Revised Statutes Of 1950, As Amended; Designating The Initial Annual Baseline Collection Rate And Establishing A Monthly Baseline Collection Rate For The District; Pledging And Dedicating Such Tax Increments To Fund Economic Development Projects; Authorizing The Execution Of A Cooperative Endeavor Agreement Governing The Use And Administration Of The Newly Levied Taxes; And Providing For Other Matters In Connection With The Foregoing.
Designate Friday, June 16, 2023 As An Official Holiday For The Employees Of The City Of Natchitoches In Observation Of Juneteenth
The next scheduled City Council meeting will be May 24, 2023.