Plaquemine Board of Selectmen approves budget
The Plaquemine Board of Selectmen has approved the City’s 2021-22 budget at its October meeting. The City has been faced with significant challenges in the budget, with a huge hike in its health insurance cost of 18 to 25 percent (proposals are still being sought). In addition, almost all equipment and supplies needed to keep the city operational have doubled or tripled in cost in 2021 and those costs are expected to continue.
“We felt a 2 percent step increase for qualified employees was necessary to help offset the significant increase in basic costs of living, and to keep City pay competitive,” said Mayor Edwin “Ed” Reeves, Jr. “All of these costs have forced us to make numerous cuts this year. We eliminated many requests by every City department in the 2021-22 budget.”
“Some people have asked why we are spending on capital projects with a budget shortfall. In the case of the levee trail, it is a one time cost and grants will pay approximately $1.1 million of the $1.3 million project. The Depot Square is another one time expense capital project, and the City has allocated funds for it over the past 2 years. These projects are one time expenses - not annual recurring expenses.”
The city dodged a bullet on larger hikes in insurance costs when officials learned they would not have to test COVID-19 employees who aren’t vaccinated, which will save the city $98,000. “That brought our deficit down to $52,000 in the red, instead of $150,000 in the red on recurring expenses. So while we’re better off, we still have a very tight budget,” Mayor Reeves said.
“The health insurance hike was significant and we are still trying to get the numbers down on it,” Reeves said. While the budget took effect on November 1, the city’s insurance contract runs from January through December.