AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council approved the 2014 budget Monday that calls for almost $45 million in spending, including $4 million for work on parish roads.
Parish President Gordon Burgess said he anticipates that installation of subsurface drainage and the widening of Club Deluxe Road, a heavily traveled road on the south side of Hammond, will be done in the coming year.
Other projects include completion of the Community Center and Banquet Hall at the Florida Parishes Arena and the new Environmental Services Facility in Hammond.
Burgess said that funds are also in the budget for completion of improvements at the Port of Manchac.
Burgess added that more than $9 million was spent this year on improvements to parish roads and bridges. In his message to the council Burgess stated “I am committed to continue the ‘pay as you go’ road program that has been so successful.”
An increase in sales tax revenue has allowed the parish to remain on “solid financial ground,” Burgess said.
The road and bridge fund, which represents 34 percent of the total budget, is the largest expenditure on the 2014 budget.
He said that if all roads on the parish’s overlay list were done at one time, the cost would exceed $75 million.
Such funds are not available Burgess concluded adding that his office anticipates capital outlay funds for road work over the next five years at about $18 million.
During discussion on the budget, Councilman Carlo Bruno said he received about two dozen calls from parish workers who complained that he was against raises for parish workers.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Bruno said. He said that his only remarks regarding raises was that he opposed any pay hikes for employees earning more than $75,000 a year.
Councilmen Nicky Muscarello and Greg Varnado complained that parish workers had also called them questioning their support of a pay raise for parish employees. Muscarello said that in budget hearings he never once mentioned pay raises.
“It’s time these rumors stop … I don’t know where they started, but it’s unfair to this council,” Varnado said.
Director of Finances Jeff McKneely said raises of about three percent are included in the budget.
At the same meeting, David Vial, who represents District 8, was elected president of the council for the coming year.
Harry Lavine, of District 9, was elected vice president of the council. Kristen Pecararo was again elected clerk of the council.