St. James passes budget

The St. James Parish Council unanimously approved a proposed $64.1 million budget for its 2013 fiscal year despite one councilman’s concerns over spending parish funds for an expanded mosquito control program.

“Nuisance mosquito (control), it’s really a waste of money,” Parish Council Chairman Jimmy Brazan said during a public hearing prior to Wednesday’s council meeting.

Money should be directed toward more important issues, such as flood control and a parishwide sewage program, Brazan said.

In this year’s budget, the parish provided $101,000 from its general fund for mosquito control.

The 2013 budget calls for the parish to apply most of the $225,000 in savings from its new solid waste contracts to fund a parishwide mosquito control program.

The program would utilize three employees and chemical spraying from a pickup at a cost of $308,000, according to budget documents.

The parish will fund the program with a proposed monthly charge of $1.50 added to utility bills that would bring in $98,000 in annual revenue, parish officials have said.

Brazan previously said he thought the council was pushing the idea of an expanded mosquito program on residents.

The parish government recently mailed a survey to nearly 10,000 residents asking about the importance of a number of services, including hurricane protection, parishwide recycling and mosquito control.

“I just don’t think this flier we put out is really an accurate guide,” Brazan said Wednesday.

Ultimately, Brazan agreed to support the proposed budget, including the money for the mosquito control program, but said he would work hard to see that the allocation doesn’t get spent unless residents prove they want it.

Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Terry McCreary, Ralph Patin, Charles Ketchens, Ken Brass and Brazan supported the ordinance adopting the 2013 budget.

Councilman Jason Amato showed up late for the meeting and missed the vote.

Other actions taken by the council involved:

NEW PRECINCTS: The council unanimously voted to amend the parish code of ordinances to create three new voting precincts as part of the St. James Parish School Board’s redistricting plan.

Two of the precincts will be added to School Board District 3 in Paulina and the third to School Board District 4 in Convent, according to the resolution.