Baker sets more budget meetings

The City Council on Tuesday set three “work sessions” to prepare a final budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Councilman Charles Vincent said the council has held three informal sessions to discuss budget issues with department heads, including a lengthy meeting earlier on Tuesday, and may be able to wrap up its work with one more meeting Wednesday.

“We’re about 85 percent through it,” Vincent said.

The Wednesday meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Other sessions, if needed, will be at 9 a.m. Monday and 10 a.m. June 10.

Other topics before the council included:

AUDITOR EVALUATION: Baker resident Charles Crittenden, who has criticized the council’s 4-1 vote last month to award an auditing contract to a Baton Rouge accounting firm, gave written notice to council members that he wants to see evaluation forms used to discontinue using longtime auditor Mary Sue Stages.

Councilwoman Joyce Burges said last month that council members ranked the applicants after evaluating the firms individually through a checklist.

Mayor Harold Rideau made a similar request May 14, but said he received only Burges’ evaluations.

Vincent said Tuesday he made his decision based on the firms’ applications and did not use an evaluation form.

“I don’t know what my colleagues did,” he said.

RECYCLING BINS: Allied Waste Services has begun distributing 95-gallon carts for residents to use in collecting paper, cardboard, cans, glass and other materials that can be recycled. The wheeled carts can hold up to 300 pounds.

“We expect a 20 percent increase in participation and a 20 to 25 percent increase in volume,” Allied representative Karla Swacker told the council.

WELL COMPLETED: The council accepted as substantially complete the work of Layne Christensen Inc., a Prairieville firm that drilled a new water well for the city on Groom Road. The final contract price was nearly $1.17 million.