Gonzales City Council approves controversial cuts

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The Gonzales  City Council voted to approve two ordinances Monday night that will cut funding from the city's upcoming fiscal budget. One will cut an annual contract with the Ascension Economic Development Corporation by $75,000. The other will slash about $500,000 from funds earmarked for fire and police department equipment upgrades.

"You should use the power that's given to you to lift up the people. You don't lift up people by turning your back when a company wants to come in here invest millions of dollars, create jobs and you say no," Ascension Parish Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Pryor said to the council.

The debate generated plenty of opposition among council members.

"It was not mandated so do what you want tonight but I will not vote to throw away taxpayer dollars," said Council Member Kenneth Matassa.

"We're not cutting the fire department. What we're trying to do is stabilize the spending across year," answered Councilman Gary Lacombe.

The explanation of stabilizing spending however did not sit well with Police Chief Sherman Jackson.

"It's not for you to decide when a car is good and no good. If you want to be the chief you can run for it," Jackson said to Lacombe.

Both ordinances calling for cuts were approved by 3-2 votes with Lacombe, Timothy Vessel and Terance Irvin signing off.

The cuts could be far from a done deal with Mayor Barney Arceneaux leaning towards a veto.

"I'm going to get together with my staff this week. We are going to go and review everything brought to my attention tonight and it's a good possibility I'll do that. I've got 10 days starting tomorrow," said Arceneaux.

This latest round of disagreements came as voters try to secure enough signatures to get a recall election for Lacombe and Vessel.

"I'm focused on day to day what can we do with every budget to move us and propel us forward that's all I can focus on. I'm not going to worry about the other stuff," said Lacombe.

Those seeking the recall elections for Lacombe and Vessel will have six months to garner enough signatures to put the item on the ballot come November.

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