Lake Charles ends fiscal year with surplus

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach’s administration announced that the 2011-2012 fiscal year ended with a small operating surplus

instead of a deficit.

On Tuesday, the administration informed the City Council that the surplus was $42,101.

“We watched the budget closely, but it worked,” Roach said. “There was some concern because August collections looked like

they would be down and not match our expenses.”

A $1.3 million deficit had been projected by city officials for the previous fiscal year, which ended in September.

City officials projected $56 million in revenues, but “operating expenditures and transfers of funds for operation subsidies

were $1.4 million less than estimated,” city finance director Karen Harrell said.

She said the administration’s policy of not filling about 30 positions in the city helped curb costs. Money was also saved

on contractual services and utility bills.

“We really had a balanced budget,” Harrell said.

The 2012-2013 budget was approved by the City Council earlier this year with an estimated deficit of $2.5 million.

Cash reserves total $25 million.

“That budget is based on spending everything you budgeted at the level you budgeted,” Roach said. “Public works, fire and

the police departments account for 80 percent of the budget.”

In a news release, the administration stressed that Lake Charles functions with a quarter-cent less sales tax compared with

Calcasieu Parish’s other municipal governments.

Also, the city does not collect a fee for trash and garbage collection.

Harrell complimented the city’s department heads for managing the tight budget.

“This is great news for the city,” she said. “It demonstrates the commitment of our department heads and employees to work

through fiscal challenges and help us manage operations to reduce costs wherever possible.”