Patterson Council sets 2011-2012 tax, budgets

By: JEAN L. KAESS

PATTERSON — It was all about money at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

City leaders adopted the 8.29 mill property tax for 2011 and the capital outlay and operating budgets for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. A public hearing that garnered no comment on these items was held prior to the regular meeting.

The city anticipates $6.6 million in revenue and $6.1 million in expenditures with an ending fund balance of $16.9 million. In capital outlay, the city will spend $210,000 for police department vehicles and equipment upgrades, $5,000 for administrative computers, and $10,000 in equipment for the gas and water departments.

The council learned from city engineer Clay Breaux that the Catherine Street sidewalk project will go to bid this month and that the loan application process for the city water plant has begun.

A preliminary engineering report is due next week with final designs and bids set for December or January.

Mayor Rodney Grogan said groundbreaking on the project is preliminarily set for May 2012 with project completion slated for about March 2013.

Meanwhile, there is $300,000 of damage to the current water plant that must be remedied in some way for the plant to remain safely operational. Once the new plant is online, the old one will not be utilized, so engineers have come up with a plan to make less than $100,000 in repairs to keep the plant functioning. The council is looking to pay for those repairs through a grant application to the Delta Regional Authority.

Guest speaker school Superintendent Dr. Donald Aguillard requested and received a resolution of support from the council for the school system’s upcoming tax election Oct. 22.

The 11.18 mill tax, on the books since 1988, generates $6.3 million annually for teacher pay and benefits. Failure to renew the tax for another 10 years would “trigger a catastrophic event” in this parish, Aguillard said.

To make up for the loss, either 18 percent of teachers (equating to 127 positions) would have to be eliminated, or teachers would have to take an 11 percent pay cut across the board.

That amount is equivalent to a $357 per month cut in salary for a teacher holding a bachelor’s degree at step one of the system’s salary schedule.

In other action, the board:

—Learned a town hall meeting will take place some time in the near future to discuss the need for a red light on U.S. 90, in response to requests from school bus drivers who have trouble crossing the highway in the vicinity of Lipari Street. The state Department of Transportation will be assessing the need for the light in the area, possibly by Ganaway’s. The results of that study will be released at the town hall meeting.

—Adopted the annual audit compliance questionnaire.

—Learned that First Call has been activated for Patterson residents in response to communication problems with the August boil order. Residents must input their current information with First Call to be contacted in case of an emergency. The service is provided through the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, so there is no cost for the city to utilize it. See box on this page for registration information.

—Learned that an ordinance governing beekeeping is on the books. Grogan requested city attorney Russel Cremaldi notify residents who are undertaking that profession of the requirements, as there have been complaints to city hall.

The entire council was present for Tuesday’s meeting.

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