Port Allen council meeting delivers fireworks over a budget

PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - A committee meeting in Port Allen delivered tons of fireworks over the city's operating budget or the lack of it.

People escorted out, police silencing outbursts with arrest threats and Port Allen residents and council members shocked at what's happening.

"I come embarrassed and angry," said Port Allen resident.

"It's unheard of. I've been on the council 8.5 years. This is mind-boggling. It really is," said councilman Hugh Riviere.

Mind-boggling that discussions for the 2013-2014 budget haven't even started yet. That budget kicks in July 1st. Before the council can hold public hearings on the budget, they need to advertise it, but so far, every time Finance Committee Chairman Garry Hubble has introduced the item on the agenda, it's been removed.

"I've tried on May 1st, which was at the last committee meeting, and then I tried again this month," said Hubble.

But Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter ordered the item removed both times.

"It's not that it's being killed. It's just that the statute says that's the duty of the mayor," said Slaughter.

The statute she's referring to is in the functions of the mayor that states her job is "To prepare and submit an annual operations budget," but under the chief financial officer's job responsibilities, it states, "Projects and monitors budget preparation and control."

But no where in either does it exclude working with the other to prepare that budget. Long-time council members said regardless what the statute says, for as long as they can remember the CFO has prepared the budget working with the mayor and the mayor has then presented it to the entire council. CFO Audrey McCain gave the mayor a prepared budget on May 1st, but...

"That was by the CFO. I have not put the budget together. The mayor has to put the budget together," said Slaughter.

"It seems like we're going to have two budgets. We've already been presented on May 1st by the one prepared by the CFO. Now it seems to be we're going to have a second budget," said Hubble.

When asked if the mayor had gone to McCain to ask about the budget, Slaughter said, "no, I haven't. Because the budget is prepared by the mayor."

When asked if the budget is already prepared by the CFO, why not work with her and get it together, Slaughter said, "well, I have my plan that I have to go forward with and that's what I'm going to go forward with."

WAFB asked Mayor Slaughter if this had turned personal and she said, "No, it has not."

But it has turned frustrating for some in Port Allen.

"We are now adults, and when you become an adult, you put those childish ways behind you. Everybody come out here with their chest all out and their face all balled up for some confusion. That's not moving this city forward at all," said a Port Allen resident.

The mayor said the city will have a budget in time. They're scheduled for a full council meeting next Wednesday. If need be, she said they will hold a special meeting to approve a budget.

If a budget is not ready by the July 1st deadline, the city will continue to operate on the 2012-2013 budget until it runs out.