DENHAM SPRINGS – The City Council’s Finance Committee got its first look at the proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year – and the Great Flood of 2016 is still in the columns.

The proposed general fund budget anticipates a shortfall $12,898,282 in revenues and $13,436,060 in expenditures. However, the utility fund looks positive with $9,289,000 in revenues and $8,381,193 in expenses.

The shortfall is mostly due to some FEMA payments which cannot be forecast.

“This is a first draft of the budget for the upcoming year,” Mayor Gerard Landry said at the May 7 meeting.

He thanked city treasurer Michelle Hood and her staff for compiling the budget “while dealing with FEMA and recovery demands and their regular jobs.”

“Nobody can understand how hard she has to work and the department heads who have to go out time after time with FEMA,” while also collecting budget information, he said.

The committee will meet again at 4:30 p.m. May 29 to review the budget, which will probably reflect some revisions.

As committee Chairman Rene Delahoussaye and other members read through the budget, they noted where certain numbers were not complete. This was caused by the current budget, which runs through June 30, not being complete and by funding expected from FEMA, or decisions awaited from FEMA, that will change estimates.

The proposed general fund budget breaks down the anticipated $12,898,282 in revenue as:

--Total taxes: 8,697,650.

--Licenses and permits: $1,009,850.

--Fines and forfeitures: $504,500.

--Interest income: $8,000.

--Fees: $17,850.

--Intergovernmental: $2,489,732.

--Miscellaneous: $170,700.

Delahoussaye said sales tax revenue is anticipated to go up $90,000 from the amended 2017-18 budget while fines collected in Ward II/City Court will be up $115,000, thanks to a new city prosecutor.

Under intergovernmental revenue, the budget has $1,971,000 from FEMA for reimbursement of infrastructure repairs, a carry-over item from the 2017-18 budget.

The projected $13,436,060 in expenditures breaks down as:

--Total general government: $4,541,504.

--Public safety: $7,222,168.

--Highways and streets: $1,529,961.

--Health: $25,220.

--Culture and recreation: $117,208.

Government expenditures also has $2.4 million listed for building repairs from flood damage that would be covered by FEMA.

Also under government expenditures is $20,000 budgeted for the Planning and Zoning Commission and $4,000 for the business and license department to improve computer software.

Under public safety, the Fire Department has $35,000 budgeted for communication expenses and the Police Department has $40,000 for riot control equipment worn by officers.  

For highways and streets, the budget includes $44,432 for contract employees for grass cutting. This is an increase of $20,000, but Landry said they would be hired for four months.

For drainage maintenance, the budget was increased by $89,594 to $109,594 to continue cleaning ditches and canals, Landry said.

Asked how much the city had to budget for Drainage District 1’s personnel to work in the city, Landry said there is no cost.

With the Youth & Family Services Office being closed by the flood, the city did not have to budget $150,000 like it did for the 2017-18 budget, he added.

The utility fund anticipates $9,289,000 in revenues and $8,381,193 in expenses. This is $342,090 less than the $9,631,090 in the amended 2017-18 budget.

The breakdown for utility fund revenue is:

--Natural gas charges: $3,235,000.

--Water charges: $3,054,000.

--Sewer charges: $2,050,000.

--Sanitation charges: $700,000.

--Delinquent charges: $150,000.

--Miscellaneous charges: $100,000.

Under expenses, the breakdown is:

--Utility administration: $675,038.

--Gas Department: $1,548,028.

--Water Department: $1,822,644.

--Sewer Department: $2,771,927.

--Sanitation Department: $713,065.

The motor pool fund anticipates $397,150 for charges for services, the same as in the amended 2017-18 proposed budget, with expenses of $454,712.

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