Gonzales City Council votes to cut police, economic development funding

Gonzales City Council votes to cut police, economic development funding

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - The Gonzales City Council approved two ordinances Monday that will cut funding to the Gonzales Police Department and the Ascension Economic Development Corporation.

However, Mayor Barney Arceneaux said he will likely veto the ordinances. Council members Terence Irvin, Timothy Vessel and Gary Lacombe voted to approve the budget ordinances, allowing them each to pass by a count of 3-2.

One ordinance will shrink the budget for economic development by $25,000 or 25 percent. The other ordinance will amend the capital outlay portion of the budget to give the police department about $100,000 less than it had requested.

The meeting then turned contentious when Lacombe challenged Arceneaux's appointments on the five members of the planning and zoning commission. Lacombe made similar claims in a recent letter to the attorney general's office, in which he accused Arceneaux of malfeasance in office.

"The mayor can choose not to do anything," said Lacombe. "The point is the office, by law, is vacant."

"I'm telling you it's been to the courts," countered City Attorney Ryland Percy. "The courts have said they remain in office until they are replaced."

Arceneaux also sounded off on the accusation during the meeting.

"You're throwing a criminal violation at me," said Arceneaux to Lacombe.

"Nobody says criminal there," answered Lacombe. 

"Malfeasance is criminal," said Arceneaux.

"Malfeasance is not criminal," said Lacombe.

The tension continued as Vessel blamed Arceneaux for the recent government standstill.

"All it takes is for you tonight to put that shovel down," said Vessel. "If you put the shovel down, we can move the city forward. You keep digging a hole for yourself."

After the meeting, Vessel and Lacombe hurried to the exits and refused to talk to the media. Irvin tried to do the same, but did say the disagreements are nothing out of the ordinary.

"Gonzales is moving forward," said Irvin. "We're going through growing pains and this is part of that process."

"People of Gonzales will recall years and years ago, nothing like this has ever happened in the city of Gonzales. It's since these two new council members got elected and the three got together and it's been nothing but problems ever since," said Arceneaux.

After the meeting, Arceneaux said he will take a few days to look over the ordinances that were passed but added there is a very strong possibility he will veto them.

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