PORT ALLEN - Budget concerns in Port Allen continue, but firefighters can breathe a sigh of relief. They will get paid, despite the city not having a budget.
Mayor Deedy Slaughter vetoed the city's budget last week after a squabble with council members. The council has been operating on 50 percent of last year's budget since then. The firefighters' budget was set to run out, but a different funding source will be used so there is no interruption in service.
There are two different budgets that affect the fire department. Even though Mayor Slaughter vetoed the city's budget last week, money from the second budget can be used to pay for firefighters salaries.
Port Allen Fire Chief Rick Boudreaux said a major restaurant fire last month hilighted the need to keep fire service in the city from being interrupted.
"It would have been devastating," Boudreaux said. "These people have families. They rely on paychecks to support themselves and this district relies on them to show up to work."
Boudreaux got the good news about the fire department's budget just before Wednesday's council meeting.
"The good news is the Legislative Auditor's General Counsel has approved a method for us to utilize a fire subdistrict budget which was approved and not vetoed to continue paying our fire fighters, even after the 50 percent local government budget act money runs out," Boudreaux said.
Although the fire department won't be affected, other city services could be. Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain told News 2 that since the Mayor's veto, budget accounts are beginning to dry up and some vendors haven't been paid.
"We need to step back from individual agendas and come together and do what we need to do to pass an operating budget so basic functions of government can continue to run," Boudreaux said.
News 2 requested an interview with Mayor Deedy Slaughter today, but she never got back to us.
Even if a new city budget is approved, it will take time to pass. The budget must be posted for the public to view before it can be approved.