Kates: Council took legal vote

Published 4:02 am Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Editor’s Note: Gloria Kates — who represents District A for the Bogalusa City Council, is a member of the finance committee, and serves as this year’s council president — emailed The Daily News a statement responding to Mayor Wendy Perrette’s recent published comments about the city council’s actions in the Tuesday, Aug. 14, meeting. The following is Kates’ complete, unedited response:

In response to the Bogalusa Daily News article “Mayor: City Council Resolution passed Tuesday were “invalid” dated August 11-12, 2018. The allegations sought after the Bogalusa City Council and the Finance Committee are ludicrous and an executive body witch hunt. The Mayor’s statement that this was an illegal action is fake There are no policies in place that mandates that the council is prohibited from preparing a resolution pertaining to the election call. According to OPINION 10-01 16A which is applied state wide: 129 TAXATION – Levy & assessment (ad valorem taxes) La. Const. art. VI, 515-nLaw Office of Courtney E. Under the Ascension and Terrebonne Parish Home Rule Charters, a resolution by the parish council is legally sufficient to approve the call of Houma, LA 70361 a special district’ election to authorize the levy of advalorem taxes.

These resolutions were not cut and pasted from the internet, as described by Mayor Perrette. Upon inquiry to the Special Attorney most of May, as to what would be the most favorable funds to re-dedicate, it was recommended to take action in the month of August as soon as possible for the election call so that our citizens may vote on the re-dedication of taxes for the retirement/pension fund. This is exactly what was initiated. The council has always considered the City Employees Retirement and Pension, as well as, any other deficit matter very urgent and has corresponded with the Legislative Auditors since the being of the year, as well as the Special Bond Attorney on this particular matter since May. There has been numerous Finance committee public meeting on the issues.

On Tue, May 29, 2018 the Mayor conducted a meeting with the Legislative Auditors in Baton Rouge on the retirement pension deficit simultaneously as the Finance committee conducted a meeting at City Hall. I’d asked what transpired at the BR meeting and told that Any information discussed in our meetings is considered confidential. As our calendars permit, we will be glad to attend the public council meeting when the audit report prepared by Mr. Neilson is presented to the council. (This may be due to allegedly, in this meeting the council was described as a number choice words, and this is why we were not communicated with.) The long-awaited invitation to the LA Legislative Auditors (extended by the Finance Committee) was accepted. They were in attendance on July 17th presenting the financial status of Bogalusa. On July 18th, The Mayor Finance, the CPA, Bond Attorney, and with council were notified of the Corrective Plan of Action on the re-dedication of funds to the retirement system via email. There was not response, however, the finance committee’s continued attempt to show an effort of urgency, as well as, a proactive act was show during 1) the Finance Committee’s visit to the LA Legislative Auditors on July 25th presenting a Corrective Plan of Action and timeline for review and 2) initiating these resolutions addressing the retirement fund. This was not jumping the gun, the urgency was acted upon prior to the notification of September from the LLA to the city, however, this was not the same sentiment of Mayor Perrette, with 15-years experienced in Bogalusa Municipal Government. The issue of the Retirement Fund has been in existence since her tenure as Council at Large, Finance Committee Chairman, President of the Council, and as Mayor of Bogalusa and the urgency has not been displayed, not during the suggestions made by the Finance Committee to her nor after the visit of the Legislative Auditors nor in the Corrective Action Plans submitted to the Legislative Auditors. The Corrective Action Plan for this issue on May 22nd to the Legislative Auditors states: Status of Issue per Mayor: The advalorem tax to fund the retirement did not pass in the April election. The City has to re-organize and research additional methods of raising the funds required.

The July27th response to the Legislative Auditors-Status on the Retirement /pension fund: Issue per Mayor: No change from May.

Again, it was presented that our actions were Illegal. Was this act illegal to help city employees?

What would allegedly be defined as illegal?:

  • An abuse of power which has taken place for nearly the last four years by the current executive body
  • Laws and major decisions voted upon by the council that has been ignored
  • Laws chosen to be enforced
  • Selection of services of districts and citizens.
  • A demeaning behavior toward the council members, as well as, citizens during the Council Meeting
  • Out of budget spending which is leading to the city’s demised.

Note: After approval of the budget by the council, the mayor’s ability to spend municipal funds depends on the characterization of the funds. The Local Government Budget Act limits mayoral spending of general and special revenue funds to only those that have been approved through an annual operating budget.

  • Misappropriations of Dedicated Funds from numerous accounts.

OPINION 18-001 3 129 TAXATION – “four-mill ad valorem tax must be used according to the ballot language contained in the proposition as adopted by the citizens of Bogalusa on October 17, 2009.

In essence, this is a detriment to our city and all efforts are explored to resolve this disastrous issue. We are to work together to fix this distorted system. Currently, the Bond attorney has revised the resolution propersition text in preparation for the August 21st City Council meeting.

Best Regards, Councilwoman/President Gloria Kates