Retirement and health care costs cause slight increase in City budget

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

The City Council approved the budget for the next fiscal year when it met electronically Monday. For the fiscal year 2020-21, the General Fund will be $17.2 million; the utility fund will be $36.5 million; and the special and capital projects fund will be $22.3 million. Director of Finance Debbie Miley provided the following information about the budget. The General Fund consists of 11 departments including the fire and police and has an increase of $507,722 or 3 percent over last year. The increases are related to retirement and health coverage. The Utility Fund that includes water, sewer, electric and Utility Annex has an increase of $35,998, or less than 1 percent over last year.

Natchitoches Wood

Special Funds consists of 63 funds. The $22,317,679 in the budget is split between possible/budgeted Capital Projects and all the other special funds including Utility—Water, $2,100,000; electrical, $1,000,000; and airport, $1,950,000. The remainder is for operating funds such as airport, hazard tax, water and sewer and several grants including Knock Knock Grant, Rapides Foundation, Green Market, etc.

Under planning and zoning, the council introduced a request by Brant and Clint Perot to rezone 206 University Parkway from R-2 Residential One Family to B-1 Commercial Transition to operate an office. The second item introduced was a request by the Hawley Group LLC and Tabletop Land & Development to rezone 40 acres at the Interstate 49/Hwy. 478 Interchange in Economic Development District B. The request it to rezone the property from B-3 Commercial Community and Central Business to I-1 Light Industry for development as an LED Certified Site.

The property is southwest of the interchange and adjacent to Bayou Blue Road. Also notable is that several of the agenda items were about federal and state grants for utility projects.

The council passed the following resolutions:

•Authorize Mayor to advertise and accept bids for Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot renovations

•Approve contract with Division of Administration for LGAP funds of $24,954 to purchase pressure ventilation fans and other fire fighting equipment for Natchitoches Fire Department

•Execute grant from Federal Aviation Administration that is Federal stimulus funds for Natchitoches Regional Airport to reconstruct taxiway and runway

•Submit loan application to La. Dept. of Health and Public Health for city-wide water main replacement through Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program. Mayor Lee Posey said this action will make City project-ready if funds are available from FEMA.

•Submit loan application to La. Dept. of Health for water treatment upgrades through Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program

• Submit loan application to La. Dept. of Health for replacing Existing sanitary sewer force main along Hwy. 1 Bypass

•Submit loan application to La. Dept. of Health for renovations to Mill Street and Grand Ecore lift stations through Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program

The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 26 instead of May 25 when the City will close for Memorial Day. Posey said the next meeting may be open to the public according to State guidelines. There could be accommodations for 25-30 people. That would include the council, department heads and 10 members of the public. The meeting would include social distancing and designated seating.