Board of Aldermen approves City of Plaquemine's 2017-18 budget


With one member absent, the Plaquemine Board of Aldermen approved its nearly $32 million fiscal budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year by a vote of 4-1, with Alderman Timmy Martinez providing the sole nay vote.

Martinez said during the meeting he had problems with the new budget, but they were problems that he did not want to discuss in the public meeting.

The four aldermen voting in favor of the new budget were Oscar Mellion, Jimmy Randle, Michael Rivet and Ralph Stassi Jr.

The vote on raising the pay of aldermen from $1,000 a month to $1,180 a month passed unanimously, 5-0. Alderman Lin Rivet was absent for the meeting.

In an interview after the budget meeting, Mayor Ed Reeves said the new budget reflects three goals he wanted to reach.

“The three biggest things that we did is that we gave everybody at least a four percent raise – but our police officers and firemen did considerably better than that – we hired a second city inspector to help us clean the city up of blighted houses and we created a human resources department,” he said.

The line item for the fire department raises indicates a $63,000 increase while the raises for police officers will increase that line item by about $110,000.

Reeves said the pay raise aldermen approved for police officers was necessary to prevent the ongoing loss of officers to other law enforcement agencies.

“We’ve just been training police officers for at least the last 30 years,” he said. “We get them, send them to school, train them, get them up to snuff and then they leave us to go somewhere else for a little better pay.”

“We’re now paying our police officers 10 cents an hour more than the Sheriff’s Office so we should be losing any more to them,” the mayor continued.

Reeves said the human resources department was necessary for the city of about 120 employees “because the rules and regulations are changing so dramatically and so fast and we needed somebody in-house to help us keep up with them.”

Changes to the budget from when aldermen first previewed it include $300,000 the city had budgeted last year for a walking trail on the Mississippi River levee that will not begin until next yearn and $100,000 that had been in the 2016-17 budget but the project will be done in 2018.

Another $50,000 for a sidewalk project scheduled to begin in 2017 but will start in 2018 instead was moved to the 2018 budget.

On the revenue side of the budget, a decrease is expected because of a non-recurring $250,000 land and water conservation grant the city received last year.

The city underspent last year’s projected budget by over $750,000