Comparatively little discretionary spending in parish budget

The amount of discretionary spending available to the St. Landry Parish Council is less than a piddling Powerball pool.

A review of line-item spending in the proposed 2008 budget submitted to the Council by Parish President Don Menard shows $1.5 million in accounts over which the administration and/or the council has some spending discretion.

Everything else in the total $13.4 million fiscal plan is dedicated by parish or state resolution or law.

While the parish does collect a fee, varying in percentage depending on the revenue involved, for serving as the gatekeeper, $12 million passes through the portal with no strings attached to the council administration.

The council is scheduled to consider adopting the budget at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. May 29.

Menard vetoed his own original budget for this year when he discovered unintentional disparities.

The parish has operated to this point under the revenue and spending plan of last year.

The president went through his revised proposal line by line with the council at a special meeting last week.

He proposes to create a cushion for the unexpected by estimating revenue at about 7 percent of actual receipts in 2007.

Menard told council members he believes such fiscal restraint is a more sensible approach to financial planning than budgeting every probable dollar.

Similar conservatism is reflected on the spending side, where estimated expenditures are in most cases at the same actual level as last year.

The parish president mentioned the concern on every public administrator’s mind -- the uncertain future cost of fuel -- as a continuing unknown in the money management plan.

He noted that increased payroll costs are for the most part a result of increases in pay rather than increases in positions.

Menard also pointed out the parish chooses to continue to provide health insurance at no cost to its employees.

The estimated family premium is about $1,005 monthly, all of it picked up by the parish.

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