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Budget stalemate

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GONZALES - The city council accepted a second budget proposal Monday evening after Mayor Barney Arceneaux vetoed the original last month.

Arceneaux did not support amendments that were made by the council.  The mayor warned when submitting another proposal, he will likely veto the budget again if the council returns in two weeks with amendments he does not support for a second time.

The main reason for his veto in May was an $800,000 road study for a service road along I-10.  The project was proposed by Councilman Gary Lacombe.  The proposal submitted Monday by the mayor does not include the money.

Public safety department heads contend the road study comes at cost to them.

"I'm not going to compromise public safety to fund some road that we know nothing about," said Arceneaux. "I have not heard from one constituent, not one that said do anything any different."

Police Chief Sherman Jackson said he needs to buy nine new police cars and two new motorcycles but has only been budgeted for four cars and one bike.

"I stand firm on what I asked for," the chief said. "I believe that we should be able to give our guys what they need to do their jobs."

The fire chief agreed to make some cuts and Arceneaux cut $170,000 for a proposed dog park.

Arceneaux also compromised with the council and cut $25,000 that was set aside for the AEDC, which helps bring new business to the area, but added $10,000 for the Ascension Balloon Festival and $5,000 for the Ascension Community Theatre.

The total proposed general fund budget is approximately $14 million.

Mayor Arceneaux said he is open to making more compromises to get the budget passed by the council, but has concerns with spending money for the road study.

"I have some concerns that deal with ethical violations," he said. "I think they should be looked at not only by me, but by the council."

The council will vote on the budget at the next City Council meeting on July 14.





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