MORGAN CITY — The City Council met with city leaders for more than two hours during Wednesday’s budget workshop to discuss the city’s needs for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins Jan. 1.
Those appearing before the council to answer questions about budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year included Police Chief Marc Folse, Fire Chief Morris Price, Director of Recreation and Culture Bart Mancuso and Public Works Director Mike Loupe.
Folse said the department is in need of three patrol units. The item will be financed through a $90,000 General Fund allocation.
The chief said the vehicles are needed because a few of the department’s cars have nearly 200,000 miles on them and require vehicle maintenance because of the high mileage amount. Parts for these older model vehicles are hard to come by, too.
“Three units would put us in a good place and then we can build upon that,” Folse said.
While the chief said the department has bought used cars in the past, he said that with the state of the national economy, trying to find good, used cars has become challenging. However, he said if he could find quality used cars, he would use the funds to purchase them.
Folse said the department will outfit the cars with any old accessories they have from existing vehicles that can be salvaged.
The chief also noted that the number of prisoners housed in the jail with felonies has been down this year, which meant the police department has received less money per prisoner, per day.
While the department receives $3.50 per day for prisoners incarcerated with misdemeanors, they receive about $14.50 to house prisoners serving time for felonies.
“We normally maintain 10 to 15 felons in our jail and the parish will pay us to house their felons in our jail,” Folse said. “What’s happening now is they transferred all the felons to their jail, so all we have is misdemeanors. At roughly $4 a day to maintain, we can’t do it that way anymore. Keeping felony prisoners actually makes the jail money where we can buy the food and pay for the medication.”
Currently, he said the city is starting to receive more felons as the parish jail in Centerville is beginning to fill up.
“We went through a dry spell in our jail fund this year” though, Folse said.
In the police department’s budget, $48,000 is included for housing and feeding prisoners.
Folse also told the council that costs for taking animals to the animal shelter have increased, too.
In addition to paying to bring the animals to the shelter, he said the police department has to pay to put them down if no one accepts them. The city has included $35,000 in this year’s budget for these types of expenditures.
The chief also noted that the department is down five personnel at the moment and soon will be down six employees, because another member of the department is moving away with his family.
Price noted that the fire department will need a truck, not this coming year, but in the next few years.
The city has placed its annual $25,000 allocation in a fire apparatus truck fund, and by the end of 2012, the department will have $125,000 in the fund.
The budgeted cost for a new truck is $225,000.
Price also noted that he is short on two personnel but has one lined up for school and one that he is looking to rehire, possibly by the end of this month.
Regarding the Recreation Department’s needs, Mancuso said among those at Lake End Park that are needed are two golf carts and security cameras. A projector screen also is among the list of items that are proposed.
While all of these are listed as being funded by the H&B Young Foundation, the city will not find out until the end of the year how much each of its departments will receive from the local foundation.
Once the dollar amount is known, the items that will be funded will be determined.
While it wasn’t funded, Mancuso said a swimming pool, projected to cost $750,000, is one thing the city has an eye toward constructing at the park in the future.
He said it is a critical facility for the park and would be about half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. It would require a pumphouse, too.
Mancuso also noted that on Wednesday afternoon he learned that the state’s Facility Planning office has approved the design of the cabins, although the city must complete a few technical changes on them.
Once those changes are made, the city can go out for bid on them.
The city has received funding for three or four cabins.
Among the public works sector requests are a new sanitation truck, budgeted at $235,000, that will be financed through the city’s pollution abatement fund.
For the sewer department, submersible sewer pumps ($30,000) and a utility truck ($20,000) will be purchased, using monies from the city’s Capital Additions and Contingencies funds.
For the Public Works department, $60,000 has been budgeted for a backhoe as well as $25,000 for a pick-up and two diesel mowers for $26,000.
Among the items included in the budget for 2012 for the city’s utility department are a pickup truck ($20,000), which will be paid using Capital Additions and Contingencies funds.
Clear well rehab deterioration work also is being eyed this coming year.
At the Water Treatment Plant, city Finance Director Deborah Garber said another person is needed on staff there.
Garber also reported that a general administration expense of a new computer system may be placed in the upcoming budget, but it would not be something that the city would begin making payments on until it is in operation, which could take up to two years.
She said, though, the equipment, which would involve purchasing a new server and software, has been discussed for a while but was put on the back burner because of budget cuts during 2010.
However, Garber said it is needed now.
“The system we have now is so piecemeal,” she said.
She said that the city would like to provide more online services for its customers, but with the current system, they cannot do that.
“We’re basically to the point where we’re not going to have a choice” soon, Garber said. “We don’t want to get to where it’s an emergency.”
She said when the equipment is bought, the city would finance it, probably over a five-year period.
Garber noted the city will save some money because the city’s existing hardware can support the new software.
In other action, Garber reported that the city has been directed to undertake an extensive analysis of the city’s wharf to determine what damage it suffered from the high water this past spring and what was pre-existing damage. The work will be funded at a 75-25 split with the federal government paying for 75 percent and the city funding the other 25 percent.