Clayton aldermen adjusted numbers in the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget Tuesday night and will vote on the annual financial plan in a special meeting scheduled June 23.
The action took place during a phone conference in accordance with COVID-19 social distancing rules.
To balance the budget, aldermen concentrated much of their efforts on the police department, agreeing to increase the budget for projected collections due from traffic ticket and DWI fines to $60,000. Last year, budget numbers showed the police department collected approximately $26,400 in fines for traffic and DWI fines while having a budget of $50,000.
“This is just under 50 percent of the projection,” said Alderman Wilbert Washington. “We need to get a more accurate prediction.”
In another police department matter, aldermen emphasized the importance of following the budget concerning employees and their salaries.
“We budgeted one chief and one clerk last year, but we had an extra officer,” Washington said.
Chief Bobby Madison was not present at the meeting.
Mayor Josephine Washington agreed with aldermen about police department matters.
“We have been carrying the police department for two years,” Mayor Washington said. “We have been talking about this matter for quite some time.”
In a related matter, Mayor Washington and Alderman Washington, both running in the upcoming election for the mayor’s seat, agreed to cut the mayor’s salary but did not give specific numbers.
“If I win, I will agree to a reduction in salary,” Mayor Washington said. “We can leave an amended spot for it in the budget.”
“I agree,” Alderman Washington said.
Earlier this year, aldermen agreed to cut their salary from $250 a month to $200.
Additionally, aldermen agreed to cut professional fees from $10,000 to $7,000. Money from professional fees are used to pay for water rate and sewer rate studies.
Aldermen slashed vehicle operating expenses, repair and maintenance expenses and agreed to register an extra fire truck in the non-usage category to save on insurance.
Aldermen Washington also pointed out the need “to put $15,000 in the budget” for audit expenses. Clayton is currently out of compliance with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office because the town has not performed an audit for last year.
Because of the noncompliance status, Clayton does not qualify for numerous federal and state grants.