Rayne City Council adopts $19.3 million budget

RAYNE - A $19.3 million operational budget that included pay raises for employees and police personnel was unanimously adopted by the Rayne City Council here Monday night.
The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.
Budgeted expenses are about $1.3 million over expected revenues, but officials plan to draw from the city’s $13.6 million fund balance to make up that difference.
In presenting the budget for adoption, Annette Cutrera, city clerk, noted that, of the $18 million in projected revenue for fiscal 2017-2018, more than half — $9.3 million — will come from the city’s Sanitation and Utility Enterprise Fund.
City taxes and permits are expected to add $2.6 million to the revenue stream.
The city’s General Fund, the primary source of day-to-day operational funding, shows a projected revenue of $5.2 million with expenses expected to reach $5.3 million, resulting in an ending fund balance of $1.1 million in that particular fund.
“Even though our expenses are more than our revenues, we still project an excess — or ending balance — of $13.5 million at the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year,” Cutrera said.
She pointed out that $1.2 million budgeted in Capital Outlay expenditures “are for the current infrastructure that has outlived its useful life.
“This planned infrastructure ensures the level of service the citizens deserve and expect,” she added.
“Even though we need to upgrade or replace the infrastructure, this administration is keeping an eye on the economy and cash flow so as to stay within the city’s financial means. Financial experts have reviewed the situation and agree that we must address the outdated infrastructure and have the strong financials to be able to obtain grants (or) take out loans while conserving our cash flow for day-to-day operations.”
The budget also includes a 3 percent raise to “non-elected and non-appointed” employees, Cutrera said.
“And, to be competitive, we are proposing a comparable adjustment in pay that mirrors similar-size cities in order to retain well-trained police officers long-term.”
The lone objection to the budget during the public hearing came from audience member Dexter Harmon, who alleged wrong-doing on the part of the city in preparing the document.
“I’m aware that this if the first time the council is seeing the budget,” he said. “It was supposed to be in their hands in August.”
Harmon also alleged that the city failed to properly advertise the budget as required by law.
However, Mayor Charles “Chuck” Robichaux pointed out that the budget summary had, indeed, been published in The Rayne Acadian-Tribune, the legal journal of the city, as required by law, a fact affirmed by a representative of the newspaper present for the meeting.
That budget summary was published on Thursday, Aug. 31.
As to accusations that council members had not seen or been involved in the budget process, Robichaux said that he and Cutrera had met personally with each council member seeking his or her input and that a copy of the budget had been made available to each.
Alderman Kenneth Guidry held up his copy of the budget as proof.
“All the remarks you made are not true,” Robichaux said, addressing Harmon directly. “It’s all propaganda.”
Also during the meeting, the council unanimously adopted amendments to the 2016-2017 budget to bring figures to within 5 percent of actual, as mandated by state law.
“This administration began October 1, 2016, on a positive note with $12.5 million and it is projected to end September 30, 2017, in a little better position of $13.6 million,” Cutrera said.
“This was accomplished by taking in $1.5 million more income than originally forecast due to Sale Tax income being up 17 percent. More importantly, the expenses were held down $275,000 less than budgeted,” she added.
“Every fund began and ended ‘to the good’.”
In other action, Robichaux announced that Lt. Allen “Noochie” Credeur had been re-elected by the Rayne Police Department to the City of Rayne Municipal Police Civil Service Board as chairman.
The council also granted Zerbini FAmily Circus use of a portion of the Frog Festival grounds on March 25 and 26.

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