Iowa approves operating budget, reallocates some sales taxes

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The town of Iowa’s operating budget of revenues and expenditures for the 2024-25 fiscal year was unanimously approved at a special meeting on Tuesday.

After a series of disruptive meetings — with some residents expressing concerns over the budget and the town’s transparency — the meeting on Tuesday was met with no public comment during open forums regarding the budget.

Iowa Town Clerk Cynthia Mallet said if the budget had not been approved by July 1, there would be a finding in the town’s audit for this year. Iowa Mayor Neal Watkins noted the finding would be on the council, not him or the administration.

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The council also unanimously approved a resolution for the reallocation of percentage for the town’s sales taxes. There were no public comments on this agenda item.

At the start of the public hearing before the regular meeting, Watkins addressed the open meeting law and Iowa’s public meeting procedures and enforcement by explaining the Louisiana Lawrason Act, which lays out the powers, rights and privileges of municipalities and municipal officers.

“This is a business meeting, it is not a debate stage nor a political forum,” he said.

On Tuesday, Watkins gave the following statement:

“As this a business meeting, it should be done with a level of decorum. Order is mandatory. As I am the duly elected Mayor of the Town of Iowa, I am duty-bound to my oath in office. That oath requires me to do what is best for the entire town, and the law compels me to not mismanage taxpayer funds.

“It is my opinion that to give answers to the news media – or a five-second soundbite is released to the public to fit a narrative – does no good to the Town of Iowa. Nor am I required to submit to the whims of social media, or to appoint a spokesperson on behalf of the town regarding social media.

“The last couple of weeks, we have witnessed a very distasteful display of both public politics, personal attacks and posturing for political gain. I trust that as we move forward this evening, tending to the town’s business is foremost on our minds.”