City Councilmen Dana Jackson said he thinks a discussion about cutting different services will eventually begin as the city faces a $2.5 million deficit for the 2012-2013 budget. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012 12:45 PM
Unless revenues increase in the coming years, some Lake Charles City Council members think money used to fund quality-of-life expenses may have to be cut from the budget.
Those opinions surfaced after the panel approved the city’s 2012-2013 budget, which includes a $2.5 million deficit.
City Council president Mark Eckard said the city “will have to get a handle on things or it’s going to be tight in future years.”
The Roach administration says the nation’s economic downturn and increased retirement benefit contributions to police, firefighters and public works employees have contributed to several years of deficit budgeting.
A deficit of $2.9 million was budgeted for in the 2011-2012 budget.
The city has been able to weather the financial issues by not filling nonessential jobs at City Hall and other cost-control measures.
“The City Council understands that department heads know how to work through the process because of what we have done in the last couple of years,” Roach said.
City Councilmen Dana Jackson and Stuart Weatherford think a discussion about cutting different services will eventually begin.
“We may have to stop some surplus spending like on the golf course, civic center and promenade. We have to do something because we can’t continue to draw down from the reserves,” Jackson said.
The city has had the luxury of using money from the general fund reserve — considered as the emergency savings account — to cover deficits.
At the end of the 2013 fiscal year, it is projected that $21.4 million will be available in the general fund reserve.
“Our city can’t continue to have deficit budgets,” Weatherford said. “Even with a surplus.”
The new general fund budget projects $59.2 million in expenses.
Fire and police operations account for 53 percent of budgeted expenses.
“This is similar to communities all over the country,” Roach said.
Sales taxes fund 61.5 percent of the budget. City officials project $35.3 million will be generated in sales tax revenues that will be funneled into the budget.
“Although revenues are projected and proposed to increase in the current and next fiscal years, it has taken us several years to get back to where collections were in fiscal years 2008 and 2009. It is evident that we are cautiously optimistic in our projects and as always, sales tax revenues will continue to be monitored in the upcoming year,” as stated in the administrations budget letter.
Posted By: Andy On: 9/17/2012
The City should annex areas that can provide a boost to revenues from Property Taxes. That's the only true way to increase revenues besides the Sales Tax. Of course the Powers That Be have deemed it that Lake Charles will remain small and under their control!
Posted By: me again On: 9/13/2012
New Iberia? Lake Charles?....apples to oranges!.....GET SOME AFFORDABLE DIVERSE ATTRACTIONS!!!!..
Posted By: Melissa Abshire On: 9/12/2012
Title: Here is a solution!
Why not contract our police services to the Sheriff's Office. By constitution there has to be a Sheriff's Office, but there is NO mandate for a police dept. Why don't the city dissolve the police dept. and pay the sheriff a fraction of what is being paid out to man our own Police dept. This way it helps the Sheriff have money to hire police dept personnel if needed to help with law enforcement in Lake Charles, but we do not have the added burden of maintaining our own police dept. This is being done in many places and they are seeing great benefits of it. I lived in New Iberia temporarily while working and this happened there and they haven't looked back. Protection is in place and cost way down.
Has this not even been looked into here?