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St. James Parish considering 1999 annual budget

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 16, 1998

CONVENT – St. James Parish President Dale Hymel Jr. has offered a $24.6million parish budget to the Parish Council.

In his annual budget message, Hymel outlined 1999 projected revenues of $25.2 million, which is 1.27 percent less than the estimated revenues for1998. This figure includes $8.1 million in property tax revenue, $3.8million in sales taxes, $2.1 million in federal grants, $2.2 million in stategrants and $4.1 million in user charges.Approval of the 1999 budget is anticipated before the end of 1998, Director of Finance A.J. Laiche. Public hearings will be Nov. 18 in Vacherieand Dec. 2 in Convent.In expenses for 1999, the biggest chunk goes toward public safety, including the six volunteer fire departments, emergency preparedness, drainage, fire protection and adult and juvenile detention, totaling $5.7million, or 27 percent of the total.

The second-largest portion is set for General Government, with $5.5million, or 25 percent of the total.

Total expenditures are $24.69 million, which is 4.58 percent higher in1999 than 1998’s total.

Included in the General Fund expenses include $25,000 for a van for the purchasing office, $100,000 for renovation of a house to be moved and used for a visitor information center and $27,200 for a new diesel pickup truck for the Department of Emergency Preparedness.

Hymel noted sales taxes have shown a steady increase since 1989 in St.

James Parish, attributing that to the increase in construction at local industires and an ever-improving economy.

However, due to the national economic slowdown, Hymel does not anticipate additional sales tax revenue. Total sales tax revenue for 1999is projected to be $3.8 million, a decrease of .1 percent from the currentyear.

The Department of Human Resources, which include programs for the elderly, summer feeding program, emergency utilities assistance, food vouchers and counseling programs, total $923,000 for the coming year.

The Parish Library Fund includes plans to renovate the Lutcher Library and also $30,000 for new furniture and microfilm equipment for library headquarters.

Expenditures for the courthouse, jail and public buildings totals slightly more than $1 million, most of which goes into salaries, general maintenance and utilities cost.

Total expenses for the Road and Bridge Fund will be $1.6 million in 1999,to include a parish-wide road improvement project (to be funded without having to borrow money or sell bonds). Plans are also to continue withcutting the grass along 58.8 miles of state highways, at a cost of$54,000, as well as maintaining parish streets, drainage canals and rights-of-way.

The Solid Waste Disposal Fund of $1 million and continues to increase, Hymel pointed out. The parish will continue the shutdown process of theWest Bank collection site, while the East Bank site will remain under the administration of Waste Management Inc.

The St. James Parish transit system, the only rural parish in Louisiana torun a system of this type and size, provides 2,000 passenger trips per month and a new route which crosses the Mississippi River has been launched. Total expenses for the year, including a new bus, will be$521,000.

In the parish recreation program, the budget for which totals $1 million, plans include buying more land for the District 3 park, repairs to ballfield lighting in the Paulina, Romeville and Gramercy parks, expanding the pavilion at the District 6 park, security lights at the District 4 park walking path, new baseball fields at the Lutcher park and asphalting the parking lot at the District 5 park.

The program includes little league baseball, biddy basketball, sand court volleyball, soccer, adult flag football, a parish fitness center, bantam football, senior citizens bowling and sponsorship of the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick program.

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