St. James Council reviewing annual budget

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2011



CONVENT – St. James Parish President Dale Hymel on Wednesday presented a roughly $64 million budget for the 2012 fiscal year to the parish council for review.

The budget includes base revenues of $56.7 million, an increase of $11.7 million, and base expenditures of $60.4 million, which represents a 27.7 percent increase from 2011. Hymel said he also expects to see increases in property tax and sales tax revenues in the coming year.

The revenue increase is a product of what Hymel described as an “industrial construction boom” happening in the parish. New projects involving Nucor Corp., Petroplex International and NuStar Logistics are expected to generate more than $1.2 billion in new construction in 2012.

Taking into account revenue from these projects, Hymel said property tax revenues are expected to increase by $238,500 to $13.5 million in 2012. He said sales tax revenues are expected to rise to $7.1 million, which is a $317,000 increase from 2011.

Hymel said the increase in expenditures is a result of planned construction in 2012 of several capital improvement projects, as well as the additional hiring of employees. He said the parish plans to hire a fire service administrator to coordinate volunteer firefighters and added that his administration has begun to employ 21 senior citizens in the parish as part of an elderly services program.

The budget presented at Wednesday’s meeting will be the last presented by Hymel, as he did not seek re-election to the parish presidency. Parish President-elect Timmy Roussel will take over for him early next year.

Hymel told the council he took great pride in leaving the parish in better financial shape than when he began with the parish more than 20 years ago. Hymel served as the parish’s finance director for two years before becoming parish president in 1991.

Hymel said over the past two decades millage rates in the parish have decreased by 7.6 mills, which amounts to an annual savings of $76 on a $175,000 residence with a homestead exemption. Hymel added that parish sales tax rates have remained at 1 percent and said the parish’s fund balance increased from $10.5 million in 1991 to $41.8 million in 2010.

The parish will hold two public hearings on the proposed budget ordinance. The first will be Nov. 16 in Vacherie prior to the next scheduled council meeting. The second will be Dec. 7 in Convent. Both hearings will begin at 6:15 p.m. In between, the council will hold a special meeting Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the St. James Welcome Center in Gramercy to discuss the budget.