Finance Department overwhelms CouncilOct 19th, 2012 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: News
Confusion over the most recent 2012 budget amendment summary presented by the parish finance
department caused the St. Bernard Parish Council to table the ordinance introduction until the next meeting.
Councilchair Guy McInnis said that the finance department has until October 23 to present the amended budget, with summaries, to the council for introduction.
“I feel like we’re asking for flowers and getting oak trees,” said EFC Chair and District C Councilman Richie Lewis on the 127-page document during the meeting. “I feel like we ask for a figure on one thing and we’re thrown 20 figures, and it’s a lot harder for us to make it come together and balance.”
Lewis and other councilmen took issue with only receiving the summary of the 127-budget amendments 20 minutes before the 3 p.m. council meeting. Additionally, their were two summary
sheets: one that reflected an amended budget with the $32 fire protection fee, and one that reflected the budget without the fee.
Finance Director Beverly Gariepy said that the intention of two summaries was to “paint the
whole picture” of the budget situation, in light of the $32 fee being challenged in court.
Gariepy said that the department has been understaffed this week, and was if given another week, the department could provide a summary as requested.
Both the council and finance department agreed on October 23, which would give them enough
time to vote on the introduction at their November 6 meeting.
“We tabled it because we really didn’t have confidence in the summary sheet,” said McInnis.
“It appears that the detail sheet was right and the summary was wrong,” referencing a line item
discrepancy he and other councilmen saw on the sanitation department’s budget detail sheet.
Additionally, Lewis and District D Councilman Casey Hunnicutt raised questions about the $32 fire
protection fee and where it is being applied. Lewis said that when voted on initially, the ordinance
establishing the fee said it was to go specifically for fire protection and after their skim of the document provided by the finance department, it appears to them that the fee is benefiting the
Gariepy explained that without the $32 fee, the fire department is paid mainly through the General Fund. With the $32 fee in place dedicated specifically to the Fire Department, the General Fund money once allocated for fire, can be spread to other departments, she explained.
“The support of the Fire Department is reduced, and that frees up money in your fund balance to
support sanitation,” Gariepy stated.
The council will vote on the 2012 amended budget up for introduction at their November 6 meeting.