Louisiana City Council passed its 2019-2020 budget unanimously Monday and considered the measures the city would need to take to head off further cuts in the future.
This year’s budget depends on cuts in a few department — especially the police department — and a hoped-for increase in police revenue from fines and tickets.
Councilperson Bob Ringhausen complimented the police department on its willingness to work with him on schedules that he hoped would reduce the burden on the department’s officers without compromising public safety by concentrating officers during the periods when they are most needed.
The city will need to carefully monitor the budget, council members said, to see if the city’s current streams of revenue recover or worsen over the next month.
With the gaps in the city’s budget apparently plugged for the moment, the council turned its attention to the question of how to increase revenue in the long term.
One avenue is continuing bids to attract businesses.
“It’s the chicken or the egg. We need businesses to bring people in, we need people to create businesses,” Ringhausen said.
Mayor Marvin Brown presented the Council with a memo he drafted laying out options for increasing revenue other than economic growth, including different tax increases.
“I’d encourage the new council to consider [new revenue] priority number one,” Brown said. “Is this Council willing to recommend a new direction in terms of revenue? We can’t keep dodging the bullet. Are we going to eliminate a function? A complete city function? I’ve been trying to impress this reality for several months now.”
Another prospect in the offing: taxes on online sales, an issue currently before the state legislature. And Councilperson Jeffrey Salois asked the city’s zoning and planning committee to consider the possibility of annexing bordering unincorporated areas, bringing in revenue from businesses, he said, which already use some city services.
Bids open Thursday for the section of the Georgia Street corridor between Seventh and 23rd Street for the series of infrastructure improvements that are part of the city’s Georgia Street Project. “I can tell you that for another year and a few months that area’s going to look like a third world country. It’s just going to look horrible,” City Administrator Kelly Henderson said. After the meeting, Henderson said that the digging currently underway along Georgia Street was AT&T consolidating its lines along Georgia Street at the city’s request in preparation for the project.