Livingston council OKs budget

The Livingston Parish Council approved a budget of more than $41 million for the coming year Thursday night.

The budget approval came before extended verbal sparring between the assessor and the council chairwoman on a separate issue involving payments for the building in which the Assessor’s Office is housed.

Passage of the budget came after the council approved a number of amendments to the administration’s proposal at the beginning of the meeting.

The general fund portion of the budget is 27 percent lower than the general fund expenditures for the current year.

Revenue projections for the general fund are 12 percent lower than the current year’s revenue.

While the budget matters were approved in just a few moments with little comment, the exchange between the assessor and the council proved lengthy.

Assessor Jeff Taylor complained about questions and statements made at a previous council meeting about payments for the building occupied by his office.

“Instead of you throwing out bad information, I would like for you to get your facts straight,” Taylor told the council.

He said his office made all three payments totaling $250,000 to the council for the building his office occupies.

He said his office paid for and turned over ownership of the building to the council, which has the responsibility of providing his agency with an office.

He said his office also paid for remodeling and that he did not keep coming back to the council for money as Council Chairwoman Cindy Wale said at the previous meeting.

Councilman Ricky Goff told Taylor that some members of the council asked questions about the payments, but Goff said he didn’t think there was “ill will” involved.

It was just a “very serious question” about a transaction, Goff said.

During the lengthy exchange Thursday night, Wale told Taylor several times he was out of order or had gotten off the agenda item, and Taylor complained she wasn’t allowing him to fully explain his position.

“It’s my turn to talk,” Taylor said.

“I’ve got the gavel,” Wale responded.

Later, she again told Taylor he was out of order.

“Are you saying you can say anything you want, and I can’t answer?” Taylor asked.

Taylor said the council is responsible for numerous expenses for which his office pays, but he intends to give those bills to the council in the future.

Wale accused Taylor of threatening the council and said, “That’s how you operate.”

Taylor said he deserves an apology for what was said at the previous meeting, and Wale said he wasn’t owed an apology.