Fire truck fiasco: truck caught in middle of budget fight
PORT ALLEN - Fire fighters at Fire Station 1 in Port Allen welcomed a new Ferrara fire truck to their fleet Tuesday morning.
But, it was not met without controversy. For hours after its arrival, there was no money to pay the insurance on the truck, so it was stored away.
The problem was not a surprise. At last week's city council meeting, Fire Chief Richard Boudreaux warned the district had no money in the budget for the bill since the town is operating on the prior year's budget due to a stalemate between the mayor and town council.
There was money for the insurance in his "new budget," but it is in limbo.
"The truck is kind of caught up in the budget - or lack of a budget," Parish President Riley Bertelot said.
"We have spent every penny that we have to insure the current trucks, management liability and malpractice insurance for the department," Boudreaux said.
Tuesday, he told WBRZ News 2 on the phone from a business trip in Chicago, he has no ability to move money to cover insurance without board approval.
But, when the WBRZ Investigative Unit asked Mayor Deedy Slaughter about the situation, she moved money around and purchased new insurance on the truck herself.
"We can use it tomorrow," said Slaughter. "I mean, effective today, we have the insurance."
Slaughter said the transaction is legal, as long as it is within five percent of the budget.
"We are well enough in five percent," she said. The bill to insure the truck ran about $2,600.
Boudreaux received no official word about the truck being insured by the end of Tuesday, but said he's "happy to have coverage for the truck in these difficult budgetary times."