Mayor: City in good shape for ‘16

Published 8:28 am Friday, December 11, 2015

Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said she felt the city is on the right path heading into 2016.

“Hopefully the city council will adopt the revised budget for 2015, and the 2016 Operating Budget at Tuesday’s next meeting,” Perrette said. “We’ve been following the advice of the legislative auditors, our bond attorney, David Wolfe, and our auditor, Bob Nielson, to reflect anticipated revenues for 2016.”

The city entered the 2015 fiscal year with a $1.3 million deficit. Perrette said services have not been interrupted, despite the deficit.

“Without cutting services, were able to maintain what we’ve been doing for our citizens,” Perrette said. “We haven’t had an increase in taxes, but have maintained current services.”

Regarding the 2016 Operating Budget, Perrette said some numbers are low.

“The General Fund is expected to decrease by 4.9 percent. That is primarily due to a decrease in expected grant funding,” Perrette said. “We haven’t received as many grants to reimburse us, so it’s less cost to the city.”

The mayor said the 2016 budget can be tweaked at any time.

“Information in the budget is presented to give a clear view of the operations of the city. It’s better than I expected,” Perrette said. “We’re ending 2015 better than we expected, non-audited.

“We’re hoping it will continue to improve in 2016 and we as a city provide a transparency and trust within the citizens that we are spending and using their tax dollars wisely.”

Perrette said finances are being spent on street and road overlays, a more pro-active police department and more economic development within the city.

The city ends 2015 with a $4,000 surplus, compared to the $1.3 million deficit the city inherited.

Perrette said a major project will be costly.

“We have to build a new cell for the landfill,” she said. “Funding will be costly to the city, to the tune of approximately $840,000 for the landfill. We’re weighing every option on how this will be funded. We will continue searching for repairs to sewers and streets.”

Perrette said Louisiana Community Development Block Grants are needed in the Richardson Town Community, where most of the city’s water leaks are located.

“Our water and sewage was profitable. We believe most of the bugs in the system have been eliminated as we locate and resolve the issues at the customer level,” Perrette said.

The city is not currently delinquent in paying its bills, according to Perrette.

“We’re paying back this $4 million loan from the State Department of Health and we‘re paying our bills on time,” Perrette said. “We have caught up on past due accounts and our creditors are no longer calling us. I’m proud that we’re paying our bills on time.

“Things are looking up in the city, but we’ve got to take it slow and steady.”