PORT ALLEN — The West Baton Rouge Parish Council on Thursday approved approximately $1.7 million worth of amendments to the council’s general fund expenditures for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The package included $40,000 for electronic voting equipment, $75,000 for mapping software and a $50,000 allocation to enable the city to extend its levee-top walking trail.
Some of the budget changes sparked lengthy debates among council members, one of them involving a $750,000 allocation for a capital outlay expenditure in the recreation budget.
Finance Director Phillip Bourgoyne told the council the administration had set aside money to fund the construction of three splash pads — community water parks — in Erwinville, Alexander and Port Allen.
The splash parks would be similar in design to the Bayou Plaquemine Waterfront Park in Iberville Parish, officials said.
Councilman Barry Hugghins called the $750,000 allocation a “luxury” he couldn’t support in these tough economic times.
“In my heart, I think it’s a time for caution,” he said.
Hugghins offered a substitute motion shaving off $500,000 from the proposed amendment and scaling the project down to one splash park in Port Allen.
Several council members said they, out of fairness to their districts, preferred having several different locations instead of one.
“These water parks are something the people have constantly been asking us to supply,” Parish President Riley “Peewee” Berthelot said in his report to the council Thursday night.
Bourgoyne told the council the $750,000 allocation was not a definitive price for the proposed water parks.
The actual costs associated with building the parks would vary depending on amenities and design specifications, he added.
The council ended up voting on a substitute motion from Councilman Chris “Fish” Kershaw.
Kershaw asked the council to approve the original set of amendments and proposed adding Addis to the list of proposed water park locations.
Kershaw’s motion was approved 6-3 by the council. Councilmen Hugghins, Randal Mouch and Naomi Fair voted in opposition of the measure.
Although he had originally proposed adding Brusly to the list, Mouch said he had concerns over the $40,000 allocation to install electronic voting equipment in the council chambers.
“I don’t see what’s unprofessional about what we’re doing now,” he said.
Council Chairman Gary Spillman said electronic voting wasn’t about correcting meeting procedures, but was about moving the parish “into the future.”
Editor’s note: This story was modified on Aug. 10, 2012, to reflect that Addis, not Brusly, was added to the list of proposed water park locations.