Bogalusa Council Holds Public Budget Hearing

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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The Bogalusa City Council held a public hearing on the proposed 2024 operating budget Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The Budget has been posted at the public library for viewing for two weeks, and citizens were invited to ask questions and voice concerns before it is officially put to a vote on April 16. There will be another public meeting on Thursday, April 11, where the budget will be examined in more detail, and it is set to be officially submitted to the council on Wednesday, April 10.

“I’m sick of the corruption, they are trying to pass 24 when they haven’t even finished dealing with 22 and 23,” said Fate Ferrell of Bogalusa. During his turn at the podium, he urged council members to work with the mayor and his team to find a resolution that worked for everyone.

Michelle Wilkins said, “I saw the budget and it seems a little off-putting, I want to hear what they have to say.”

Almost 30 concerned citizens attended the event, including representatives from the Bogalusa Police and Fire Departments, media, and former council members. The contentious budget drew supporters and detractors alike, and each guest was given roughly 4 minutes to ask numbers-related questions to the comptroller. Half of the City Council did not attend the meeting, including the president.

Initially, Mayor Truong indicated that questions would be heard and then responded to Thursday, and encouraged guests to submit questions electronically for a more detailed answer. After a few guests raised concerns about this process, the comptroller was allowed to respond during the meeting and address some of their concerns.

Guests raised concerns about the proposal for a public transport system and the increase in government staff while police and fire department budgets were being cut. Interim Police Chief Troy Tervalon and District Fire Chief J. Robinson both took the podium and voiced concerns about the proposed budget cuts to their departments. Chief Tervalon said, “The proposed cuts would set the police force back by years.” District Chief Robinson added later in the meeting, “If you cut manpower, you can’t cut overtime at the same time. We run a 24/7 365 operation.”

Mayor Truong clarified that the solution was the shut down one of the fire stations, and when pressed on which one, said that the mill station was at the top of the list, but it would ultimately be up to the fire chief. “These cuts have been needed for years; I don’t know where you think all this money is going to come from. If we have to choose between repairing the sewer system and being able to flush the toilet or losing a few police officers, I choose the first one.”

The mayor and his financial team advised guests that they were only doing what the Louisiana legislative audit authorities had told them to do. “We have submitted everything to them for the previous years and we are waiting for them to finalize the audit.” The comptroller assured guests that once the audits from previous years have been finalized, the proposed operating budget would be amended to reflect those numbers. 

Councilwoman Gloria Kates said that significant amendments would be proposed at Thursday’s meeting and that she intended to answer every question asked of them to the best of her ability. She said, “We have a fiduciary responsibility, ultimately this is your money, not ours.” Kates encouraged guests to write down proposed amendments and changes and bring them to the meeting on Thursday.

Without a starting or ending balance, many citizens are having a hard time seeing the viability of the new proposed budget. Many feel that it includes frivolous spending and fails to address some of the serious problems facing Bogalusa in the upcoming years. Mayor Truong fervently defended the budget, stating “I am not the problem here. All I’ve heard tonight is ‘me, me, me,’ not ‘we.’ I’m disgusted. We can’t afford to continue to spend like this, we have to move back to where we need to be.”


There seemed to be a great deal of confusion on the part of the guests in attendance as to which years were still unresolved, why, and whose responsibility it was to correct those negative balances. Mayor Truong said, “We have 1.5 million in unpaid bills, that has to go to the 22 budget, not on me.”