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Alexandria City Council approves budget with more money for APD, drainage issues

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 11:36 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - After several special committee meetings, the Alexandria City Council has amended and approved Mayor Jeff Hall’s operating and capital budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The council voted five to two in favor of the amended budget as council members Gerber Porter, Catherine Davidson, Reddex Washington, Cynthia Perry and Jim Villard. The two who voted against were Lee Rubin and Chuck Fowler.

One item that several council members wanted to address in the budget was finding more ways to allocate more money to the Alexandria Police Department. A 2% pay raise for all city employees was currently in the budget, which does include APD.

At Tuesday’s meeting, District 4 Councilwoman Catherine Davidson made several amendments to give more money to the police department. This money came from a $1.7 million surplus that was not spent on police salaries and an extra $300,000 was added to that amount to make an even $2 million.

“One of the great benefits the City of Alexandria has working here is called a pension deficit. This means for every person you hired, a certain amount of dollars is paid for their pension. The healthcare is being paid 85% by the city and you need that buffer. That is $1.2 million and $800,000 in the pension deficit and that gives the opportunity that whenever the police department and the administration reach an agreement on pay, they plug it into the matrix and have that money,” said Davidson.

This amendment was approved with a four to three vote as councilmembers Davidson, Washington, Perry and Porter voted in favor.

Another amendment was made to defund the city’s Public Safety Commissioner position, which is held by Daryl Terry. Davidson made this amendment and wanted to use the $113,183 as a new line item in the budget designated for recruiting for APD. This amendment passed four to three and councilmembers Davidson, Washington, Perry and Porter once again voted in favor.

Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall said he believes this decision by the council is against the charter.

“We believe some things may have been breached. Maybe it’s a matter of understanding, but we’ll have to see exactly what happened there. That commissioner was put into place for safety and for a purpose, not because we just thought about it on the wind. I’m not satisfied with that position being defunded,” said Mayor Hall.

Davidson said that this amendment made by the council wasn’t personal to the mayor or to the commissioner position.

“This is about dollars and numbers. The mayor has appointed his police chief, and it has been the practice of the city for many years that a police commissioner is used only when there is an opening that needs to be filled in the chief’s position. That was taken care of and that money is better utilized by getting police officers,” said Davidson.

The amendments to the budget did not just pertain to APD but also to address drainage issues in Alexandria. Council members Porter and Perry said these are concerns that residents in their districts have to worry about. Money was set aside for drainage repairs whenever any drainage projects are made and approved.

The council had to have the budget finalized and approved by April 27.

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