Does Port Allen have a budget or not?

Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter
Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter

PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Will Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter's budget veto stick?  Some council members question whether she got her veto in within the allotted time frame.

The city's Chief Financial Officer said she has grave concerns about specific departments, such as the fire department, running out of money because the city has yet to adopt an operating budget.  The budget is four months overdue, so now, does Port Allen have a 2013-2014 budget or not?

"The deadline was followed according to that Louisiana Revised Statute," said Mayor Slaughter.

But the question is, was that deadline actually met?

Mayor Slaughter said she's protected by the law in vetoing the proposed 2013-2014 budget, and she claims she met the deadline.

"If you go back and look at the statute, it tell you the 10th day before midnight," said Mayor Slaughter.

But some council members said she's late meaning the city automatically has a budget and her veto does not apply.

Port Allen City Attorney Lance Joseph said otherwise.

"So in your opinion, the veto stands and the city is still without a budget?" asked WAFB's Kiran Chawla.
"Most likely, yes," said Joseph.

At the October 23rd city council meeting, the council approved this year's budget.

Two days later, the city's Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain handed over the proposed budget to Mayor Slaughter for her approval or veto.  The time it was officially given to the mayor was 10:04 a.m.

On Monday, Nov. 4th, around 4 p.m., which was the tenth day, Mayor Slaughter gave the ordinance back to McCain, a veto to the budget citing five specific reasons.

"Will this city ever get a budget," asked Chawla.
"Yes, this city will get a budget.  I mean we're at the point where we will have to negotiate, myself and the council and the city will get a budget," said Mayor Slaughter.
"Are you planning to nudge from those five issues you spoke about though?" asked Chawla.
"There's a possibility, if not all fives, there may be a few but for sure, we know for sure the police cars are something that's really needed," said Mayor Slaughter.

The law reads as such "If the mayor fails or refuses to return an ordinance to the municipal clerk within ten days of receipt of an ordinance, it shall become law at midnight of the tenth day after the receipt of the ordinance by the mayor."

Some interpret that ordinance to say the mayor only had until Monday 10:04 a.m. to veto the budget and she missed the deadline.  But Joseph said the time is irrelevant.

"The statute does not require the time to be recorded so I don't imagine you have to return it by a certain time.  As long as it's within 10 days, I think the veto will be timely," said Joseph.

The mayor contends she had until midnight.

"Why wait till the last minute," asked Chawla.
"That was my choice.  As long as I stay within that deadline, that was my choice," said Slaughter.

Mayor Slaughter said she hopes to come up with a new budget at Wednesday night's meeting, introduce it next Wednesday night and then hold a special meeting before December to vote on a budget.

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