Ferriday Town Council members failed to approve the town's annual operating budget at a special called meeting on Wednesday.
Without an approved operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Ferriday cannot spend more than 50 percent of its last approved budget, the state Legislative Auditor's office says.
“After that they have to stop spending,” said Louisiana Auditor Director of Local Government Services Diane Allison today (Thursday). “Failure to adopt a budget could be malfeasance of office as well. The unfortunate thing is it's the citizens of Ferriday who are hurt by this.”
Alderwomen Brandi Bacon, Gloria Lloyd and Alderman Andre Keys voted against adopting the budget Wednesday while Elijah “Stepper” Banks and Gail Pryor voted in favor.
The failed budget came up for discussion during a previous meeting on Jan. 6, but a lack of a quorum prevented the Town Council from taking any action on the proposed budget. Three aldermen--Bacon, Lloyd and Keys--were absent for that meeting.
The lack of a quorum led to the calling of a special meeting on Wednesday.
“I can’t make an intelligent decision on the budget when we haven’t had a financial report since September,” Lloyd said. “I keep being told we are going to get one, but have not. And we have no say on money being put in an account. That should be the board’s decision, not the mayor.”
Lloyd said another budget meeting has been set up for Monday at 6 p.m. at Ferriday Hall.
“It’s the same budget that was approved under (former mayor) Sherrie McMahon,” said Ferriday Mayor Rydell Turner. “We talked to the state legislature, and they said to shut everything down. We cannot operate without a budget. We can’t write checks unless the money is appropriated.”
Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Department and parish fire departments have offered their assistance, Turner said.
“We’ve got a lot of moving pieces right now,” Turner said.
The CPSO announced on social media this afternoon that "anyone who has a criminal complaint or is experiencing an emergency is asked to call 911. Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office will handle all calls.
Legislative auditors are scheduling a visit to Ferriday, Allison added.
“Passing the budget would be the right thing to do,” Allison said. “We want to find out why the budget is so egregious.”
The budget reflects an estimated total revenue of $3,042,604 with $2,823,750 in total general government for excess in revenue of $293,854.
The mayor’s salary is $44,000.
Total salaries are $1,210,000.
Sales tax revenue is $1,200,000
The budget reflects ad valorem taxes at $275,000.