The Concordia Parish Police Jury adopted a revised budget for the fourth quarter of 2020 as well as a revised 2021 budget for the first quarter during its regular meeting Monday night.
Jurors also adopted a resolution allowing the Concordia Sewer District Board to go before the State Bond Commission to seek a lower interest rate for its loan, while the Jury also agreed to keep millage rates the same for 2021.
A public hearing was approved concerning an ordinance proposed by juror Adam Probst to lower the speed limit on East Road from 25 mph to 15.
Juror Gray Neal reported that he is fielding complaints that Waste Pro’s garbage pickup has been coming too early. Due to the earlier schedule, some residents had not put their garbage out for pickup in time.
The Jury also hired two heavy equipment operators, promoted one worker to a position of heavy equipment operator and hired an administrative assistant for the maintenance barn.
Additionally, the Jury gave its support to Joshua McCallister for the Police Jury Association of Louisiana board and approved an occupational license for Age Appropriate Enterprises, Ahren Williams, 2198 Hwy. 65, Ferriday.
Concerning the 2021 revised budget for the first quarter, Jury Secretary-Treasurer Sandi Burley provided the following report on the various funds:
General Fund:The General Fund is the most predominantly used fund of the parish. It has many statutory obligations to uphold. Legislative, Judicial, Administrative, Courthouse Maintenance, etc. are all disbursed through the General Fund. The Parish receives several receipts to help offset its responsibility to fund these different sectors. Ad Valorem Taxes are generally collected in the fourth quarter. Occupational Licenses are generally collected in the first quarter. Allocation to/from GOHSEP are for the management and oversight of the OEP office. Severance Taxes fell considerably last year and the first quarter payment for current year has not yet been received. A revenue account for the Coroner's Operation Funds has been created to recognize the fees now collected per statute. Under disbursements, careful watch is being conducted of anything abnormally over 25% in the first quarter. Appeal Fees term has been changed and adjustments are needed -this line item pays for statutorily required appeals by incarcerated individuals. Several expenses are due out in the first quarter, where most are monthly or quarterly.
Highway Fund:The Highway Fund is funded by the Parish Transportation Fund and a transfer from Sales Tax. PTF are received the month after the closing of the prior month. A lump sum allocation is typically made from Sales Tax. An amendment is needed to Other Income as an overall reimbursement was received in 2021 for Category B costs incurred by hurricanes Laura and Delta. Two causes for concern for the Highway Fund. First is the reduction in funding received last year versus years prior from the Parish Transportation Fund. Secondly, the abundance of materials purchased and continually needed to repair the roads. Higher allocations were made to Limestone and Washed Gravel due to heavier use as they are more sustainable.
Drainage Fund:The Drainage Fund is primarily funded by an Ad Valorem Property Tax and a transfer from Sales Tax. Ad Valorem Tax receipts are primarily collected in Quarter 4. A modification is needed to Other Income to recognize reimbursements from hurricanes Delta and Laura. Under disbursements, allocations for culvert replacements are the most critical. Additional monies were allocated to the culvert budget however, due to repairs needed additional funding may be needed.
Solid Waste Fund:The Solid Waste Fund is solely funded and supported by an allocation from Sales Tax. Sales Tax transfers monthly allocations to the Solid Waste Fund to cover costs. Any unused allocations of this sales tax remains in the Sales Tax Fund. Two adjustments are needed. One for Worker's Compensation (formerly Salaries and Budgets) and the change of line item to Misc -Office Expenses to purchase checks for this account.
Road Tax/Sinking Fund:Road Tax Sinking Fund and Reserve Fund is required as part of a road bond loan the Parish is under obligation. Payments are made in first quarter and interest payments are made throughout the year, when due. A deficit in the first quarter is not uncommon as the subsequent transfers from Sales Tax replenish the balance.
Public Health:Public Health is primarily funded by the Ad Valorem Property Tax. The bulk of ad valorem taxes are collected in fourth quarter. Funds received in the first quarter are typically taxes and penalties for late payment. Public Health retains a healthy surplus. There is no concern for long term deficit tothe account. An adjustment will be made for Capital Outlay purchase as the Jury approved the purchase of a new truck for the Sanitarian.
Sales Tax: Sales Tax is being watched carefully due to the continuing pandemic. Currently the receipts show 31% received for first quarter. However, the estimated receipts collected in which to budget are already reduced to allow for understating revenues and overstating expenses. In actuality, based on numbers by the Sales Tax office, taxes collections are higher in the first quarter actuals over first quarter last year. Sales Tax transfers out to the individual funds on an as-needed basis. Once funds are allocated to a specific schedule they cannot be unallocated. Fund remaining in the Sales Tax fund and are unallocated so if a schedule/fund runs short, an additional allocation can be made.
Witness & Juror:Completely funded by a transfer from the General Fund, this is a schedule we watch closely when there are several jury trials. There are no concerns at this time.
Section 8:Section 8 is meeting its receipts and disbursements. An update to Other Entity income is needed. These are for transfer of fund when a person moves into our location. There is no concern at this time for any budgeted deficit. Funds still remain in the ending balance from the CARES Act.
LCDBG:The LCDBG project of Washington Heights has been completed. Any further Receipts and Distributions should continue to offset each other as this grant and project is 100% funded with no cost share to the Parish.
Law Enforcement:The fund is used to cover law enforcement attendance at trials or procedures. There is little concern for a deficit to the account since no disbursements are made unless court proceedings are being held. The fund has a hefty surplus in reserves should a transfer from cash be needed.
Unemployment:The percentage paid to unemployment from salaries was reduced to .05%. This was due to the reserved balance being perceived as a reasonable balance to carry forward. Reduction to the unemployment claims were also made due to the required employer increase of the retirement by 1 % in effort to control costs and the payroll burden of the Parish.
Special Juror:Judicial proceedings are being rapidly conducted to catch up from the closure last year when the pandemic first started. The fund currently has abudgeted deficit but maintains a hefty cash surplus. Also the addition of court costs collected will also help offset the deficit.
GOHSEP/FEMA Grants:This schedule oversees any FEMA/GOHSEP projects. There have been no payment submissions to GOHSEP for Brushy Bayou Phase I reimbursements. Wetland Mitigation credits will also be purchased through this schedule and ultimately reimbursed back to the Parish from the grant. Other ongoing projects are also waiting for reimbursement. Administrative costs are being paid in advance by the Parish and will be submitted for reimbursement to FEMA once all funds have been allocated.
Criminal Court:Criminal Court receipts are on target as judicial proceedings are being held. The concern is that due to historical reduced receipts of lines and bonds that ultimately the General Fund will have to make a transfer to the Criminal Court Fund to offset any deficit. The Parish was unable to request half the ending balance for 2019 due to concerns that the fund would run into a deficit. A transfer from cash reserves was needed to bring the Criminal Court Fund back into a surplus for the 2020 budget.
Grants:Grants schedule oversees active projects that have been approved or awaiting approval. The reason for the difference in the courtroom receipts and disbursements is the match required by the parish as per guidelines of the FP&C allocations. There are also requests for reimbursements from 2020 that have not yet been received.