Proposed parish budget shows decrease

Published 11:21 am Friday, November 17, 2023

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Budget Committee heard the administrative presentation of the proposed Parish’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Thursday. The proposed budget for 2024 is $356.9 million, compared to the 2023 budget of $427.2 million.  A decrease in disaster recovery expenditures is the primary factor for the 16.4 percent decrease.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Beam said. Hurricane recovery has been an expensive endeavor. We’re not finished, but we’re well along the way.”

Beam highlighted positive economic trends: The industrial sector has made a strong comeback. That accounts for a strong sales tax. The gaming escort has rebounded to pre-COVID levels. “It’s steady,” Beam said, “not skyrocketing, but although your budget only is made up of gaming funds that equate to about three percent, it’s a substantial amount that allows you to pay for capital projects that go through later. CPPJ sales and property tax revenues are positive and federal recovery funds are beginning to flow through the local economy.

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“We have two sales taxes,” Beam said, “a one percent outside the incorporated areas and a one-and-a-half percent sales tax inside the incorporated areas. By the way, that’s the one on your ballot. We really need that. It goes toward your public works operations, parks…. Beam said the bulk of taxes from the unincorporated areas come from industry.

An increase of three percent in property taxes is projected for the coming year based on positive property evaluations.

A few of the major projects to be completed in the coming year include the second phase of the Carlyss Drive Extension, the Johnny Breaux Road Extension and the second phase of the Ham Reid Road Extension. Work is underway for the Calcasieu Forensic Center and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Office Crime Lab. A bid could go out on a new Animal Services facility early in 2024, the Burton complex has been repaired and the RV camping spots should be completed in time for the livestock show and rodeo in February.

The Calcasieu Parish Forensic Center and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab – projects in the making for over 20 years could be completed in mid-2024, according to Beam.

Top expenditures for the 2024 year will be in the public works category at 37.5 percent. Operations expenditures increased by $6.1 million or 6.3 percent because of wage adjustments and position count. Healthcare and property insurance costs were up by 16 percent.

These highlights cover the PROPOSED budget as presented to the Budget Committee. The November 30 and December 13 CPPJ meetings will cover votes for approval and the public hearing. See the complete budget at the CCPJ website.