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Police take cut in latest budget talk

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GONZALES - The city council met to vote on a second budget proposal Monday evening but a vote won't take place for another two weeks since two amendments were made and accepted dealing with the spending plan.

The amendments were passed by the same 3:2 vote and create a divide among city leaders. Councilmen Irvin, Vessel and Lacombe are at odds with Boudreaux and Matassa.

One amendment, by Councilman Irvin, cuts economic development spending by allocating $50,000 instead of the mayor's $75,000. Councilman Gary Lacombe proposed decreasing the police budget by $110,000. Lacombe suggested a budget that's the five-year average of the department: $327,555.

Chief Sherman Jackson says he needs that money to replenish his fleet including nine new police units and two new motorcycles.

"It's important to have the equipment we need so we can keep our citizens safe," said Chief Jackson.  But for now, Chief Jackson will have to consider changing up his wish-list.

There was little talk about an $800,000 proposed I-10 road study that would connect Highway 30 and Highway 44 in Gonzales. It's a big reason why the mayor vetoed the budget the last time.

"We got some work to do with the mayor, and he signaled to us that he's wanting to do that, so we're going to work with him," said Lacombe.

There was ethical controversy with the plot of land where the study may have taken place. Councilman Terance Irvin's late father, former state legislator Melvin Irvin Jr., owns the land. Monday night, Irvin said he met with the Louisiana Board of Ethics who suggested Irvin does not have to recuse himself from voting on funding of the preliminary study for the placement of a service road.

Despite money for it not being in the budget, Lacombe says that road study isn't off the table entirely.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux still is not sure what he will do after this comes to a vote in two weeks.


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