Police jury budget pretty good

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; It&8217;s the unexpected that has the Concordia Parish Police Jury a little worried about numbers.

This year&8217;s budget is fairly on track, President Melvin Ferrington said, but things can always come up. One big thing on his radar is the relocation of the Ferriday voter fraud trial to Monroe, &8212; a court-ordered venue change &8212; and expense that the jury would have to pay.

&8220;Everything is running along pretty good. We have done the revised budget to get us back in line with the money we are spending,&8221; jury Secretary Russell Wagoner said. &8220;We will have a surplus at the end of the year, but it will be lower than we like to keep.&8221;

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Total receipts for the general fund are estimated around $1.4 million and year expenditures are projected at $1.5 million, Wagoner said. Grants and monies from other funds owed to the general fund will cover the deficits, he said. The total year ending balance in the general fund is expected to be approximately $136,000, Wagoner said.

Ferrington has said he&8217;d like to honor a request from parish Judge Kathy Johnson to hire a bond officer, but he&8217;s going to research the funding aspect first. The officer would cost approximately $1,500 a month.

The jury may also have to fund repairs to the leaky courthouse roof this year.

Costs incurred exceeding the allotted budget cause the general fund to become the backup plan, which is not always good, Ferrington said.

&8220;We do have to watch the general fund monies because those funds are running pretty close,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;re OK where we stand, but it&8217;s the unseen things that could get our general funds in places we don&8217;t want to be in.&8221;

General fund money goes to anything not included in the drainage, solid wastes and tax funds. Part of all salaries, with the exception of the sheriff&8217;s office, are paid from the fund. Expenses from employees working in the courthouse, jail expenses and prisoner care and veteran officer salaries also come from the general fund, Wagoner said.

The general fund balance should be $100,000 to last through the first three months with room to breathe, Wagoner said.

&8220;Pet projects&8221; and projects not necessary in the beginning of the year, usually get dealt with after the third month when the jury receives the sheriff&8217;s ad valorem tax money.

&8220;I tend to be very apprehensive about spending money,&8221; Wagoner said. &8220;I look at the end results each year and most people don&8217;t, and if I don&8217;t take that approach we will get in situations we don&8217;t want to be in.&8221;

The jury will also implement new security measures in the courthouse, buy new equipment for emergency preparedness operations and purchase a new hauling truck sometimes soon, Ferrington said.

&8220;Our biggest focus is to stay within our budget and spend the taxpayers money wisely,&8221; Ferrington said. &8220;If you don&8217;t take that approach you will get in situations where the general funds are very short.&8221;

The budget is revised four times a year allowing adjustments to be made if necessary. Louisiana State law requires the projected budget to be within five percent of the actual end of the year budget. The jury must also complete a budget once a year, he said.

The police jury is in charge of overseeing roads and utilities in the parish among other things, Wagoner said.

Wagoner said the drainage, solid waste, sales tax, witness and juror budgets will all see a small surplus at the end of the fiscal year.