Ferriday board decides not to fund farmer’s market

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FERRIDAY — A Ferriday Board of Aldermen special meeting ended in disagreement Tuesday after the board decided not to allocate $5,650 toward the town’s farmers market.

Aldermen picked July 6 as the date for the inaugural farmers market during its June board meeting. But after working to organize the event, Alderman Elijah Banks said he needed money to improve the quality of the farmers market.

“People come through Ferriday from all different directions,” Banks said. “We are going to have to start stopping those people. The farmers market is a start.”

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Banks said the money would have created fliers, purchased door prizes and spent $1,500 on a band to play during the farmers market.

All five aldermen and Mayor Gene Allen were in favor of hosting the market, but some disagreed on doling out taxpayer money.

The city could only afford to provide a facility and electricity, Allen said.

“We are in difficult financial times,” he said. “Providing the building, facilities and electricity is all we can do. I would give my personal funds, but we can’t donate the town’s funds.”

But Allen said his primary reasons for not agreeing to allocate funds were contained in Louisiana law. He cited Louisiana constitution article VII section 14 and Louisiana revised statute 33:1324.

Article VII section 14 states that municipalities cannot loan, pledge or donate funds to a public or private entity, except for certain exemptions.

Statute 33:1324 grants parishes, municipalities and other government entities the right to act jointly with other public or private entities.

Allen said he learned that allocating money to the farmers market was a violation of law after reading the July edition of the Louisiana Municipal Review.

Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd agreed with Allen.

“I don’t even go to jail to visit people,” Lloyd said. “I don’t want to spend any time in jail either. I don’t want to do this if it is in violation of the law.”

After the at-times heated discussion, Allen prompted the board to make a motion.

“I make a motion to continue doing what we have got to do to get this done,” Banks said.

The motion narrowly passed with three in favor and two against, but the motion did not include allocating money to the farmers market, Allen said.

Alderman Johnnie Brown said Allen’s stance on allocating money surprised him.

“That statement should have been made one month ago, not now,” Brown said. “I thought we were going in one direction, following your lead. I’m not going to sit here and debate about something that is beneficial to Ferriday.”

In other news from the meeting:

• The board approved a measure to allow residents to shoot fireworks, starting immediately and ending at 1 a.m. on Sunday.

• Lloyd proposed a measure to waive the $100 aldermen are paid for special meetings.

“The city is in difficult financial times right now,” she said. “This is a small thing we can do to help.”

The motion died for a lack of a second.