Parish council passes budget

Published 4:04 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016


The Washington Parish Council passed the 2017 budget without comment from the community or members of the council.

The lack of discussion kicked off with a budget hearing at 5:45 p.m., 15 minutes prior to the council meeting at 6 p.m. No one spoke at the hearing, so it was closed after five minutes.

During the meeting, Parish Finance Director Donna Graham said the budget is tight due to low sales tax returns. However, she did note that a 1/3-cent tax that had been used for bond payments would be freed up to use on road repairs, now that the bond has been paid off. Graham said the parish would continue to focus on in-house paving and road repair jobs, and she noted that in the last year, the parish resurfaced over 19 miles of road at a cost of $720,052.

According to the submitted budget, the parish will have a fund balance beginning at $8.3 million and the parish expects to bring in $19.9 million and spend about $19.5 million next year.

In addition to passing its budget, the parish council also introduced an ordinance to accept Silverado Lane (also known as Silverado Street) as a parish road.

Council President Pete Thomas noted that the council was only introducing the ordinance, and would only vote on the ordinance after a public hearing at 5:45 p.m. ahead of their next scheduled meeting, Dec. 19.

The council’s agenda included a resolution establishing a home rule charter for the council-president government, but council member Michael Fussell noted the council already approved that in July and he moved to strike the resolution from the agenda. His motion was approved.

Next, the council approved annual audits for the parish and the landfill.

Finally, the council adopted a resolution to officially dedicate the 1/3-cent tax for road repair and construction projects.

“We’ve sent all the money that’s needed to make that final (bond) payment so the
proceeds will be freed up,” Graham said.

Parish President Richard “Ned” Thomas said the tax generates about $1.4 million per year.

“It’s a real good thing,” he said.

There was no public participation and after that, Thomas asked the council to pass a couple of resolutions filling seats on Fire Protection District No. 3 and the parish library board of control.

Thomas also urged the council to seek confirmations on seats that are coming up for renewal at the end of the year, in time for the next meeting later this month.

“We definitely need resolutions for our next meeting,” he told the council.

He also asked council members to submit four or five miles of parish road that need repairs or paving next year.

During council discussion, Councilman David Anthony invited everyone in the parish to see his Christmas light display. Anthony said it includes a snow machine.

He lives at 29419 Archie Simmons Road in Mt. Hermon and he said the display will be turned on every Friday and weekend from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The next Washington Parish Council meeting will be Monday, Dec. 19.