Alexandria City Council approves to balance city budget

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The dispute over the Alexandria city budget has been one of the main topics of discussion at city council meetings for the last several weeks. On Tuesday, the Alexandria City Council voted on and approved an ordinance to make amendments to balance the city budget.

The administration and Finance Director David Johnson said the budget was unbalanced after the council made amendments to give an additional $2 million dollars to the Alexandria police department.

On Tuesday, District 4 Councilwoman Catherine Davidson made four motions that were all passed by the council. Two of the motions were to create new line items under the public safety division in the budget, specifically police, entitled “salaries and benefits” and “fringe raises.” Council members Davidson, Cynthia Perry, Gerber Porter, Lee Rubin and Reddex Washington voted in favor. District 5 Councilman Chuck Fowler voted no and Councilman At-Large Jim Villard abstained.

The other two motions moved money from the use of prior-year revenues into the newly created line items. The council voted to approve moving $1.2 million to the “salaries and benefits” line item and then move $800,000 to the “fringe salaries” line item. Council members Davidson, Perry, Porter and Washington voted in favor. Councilmen Fowler and Rubin voted no and Councilman At-Large Villard abstained.

Davidson said the budget is now balanced with the correct funding source.

“The fact that the administration doesn’t like the fact that we have funded raises for the police doesn’t mean that it’s illegal or that it’s improper,” said Davidson. “They just don’t like it and that’s okay. For everyone saying they want police raises, I would say let’s do it cause you have the money.”

Davidson said the reason the ordinance was written the way it was is because there is a current budget in place. She said that the administration believes the city is operating at 50 percent of last year’s budget, but she says it is not. Davidson went on to say that the raises should’ve been paid to the employees and 85 percent of their health insurance.

Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall said his interpretation of the budget is not the same as what was said at the meeting on Tuesday. The mayor says the budget is not balanced and says he will continue to follow the charter.

“At some point, we will have to stop playing politics and really get down to business. These employees could’ve had their raise by now. We wanted to be further along the road by now,” said Mayor Hall.

We are expecting a ruling to be made on June 21 by Rapides Parish Judge Patricia Koch on whether the amended budget violates the city charter.

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