Livingston council votes to override Ricks’ budget veto

— The Livingston Parish Council voted Thursday night to override Parish President Layton Ricks’ veto of the entire 2014 parish budget.

The vote, which split 6-3, followed a short and unusually calm exchange between Ricks and the council. Council members Delos Blackwell, Sonya Collins and Joan Landry voted against the override.

Newly elected Council Chairman Ricky Goff said, despite the override, he is committed to working with Ricks and the parish finance director to iron out a budget everyone can live with.

“Most of them are very simple issues. There are a couple there that will be tough, but I think that’s the proper procedure at this point,” Goff said.

Ricks issued his veto Dec. 19, saying the budget the council adopted Dec. 5 violated state law as well as the parish’s own Home Rule Charter and was therefore invalid.

Ricks said the budget illegally omitted tax money dedicated for the parish’s road overlay program, funds for parish legal adviser Christopher Moody and grants for ongoing projects.

Because the council failed to adopt a valid budget by the end of 2013, Ricks said, the charter dictates that Ricks’ proposed budget would be considered adopted.

Ricks’ veto message was accompanied by a seven-page letter from 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, outlining the legal basis for throwing out the council’s budget.

Ricks said Thursday he continues to believe his proposed budget is the validly adopted one and should govern.

“I do believe Mr. Moody and Mr. Perrilloux knew what they were talking about,” Ricks said. “I think I have a good, solid, conservative budget, and I ask you not to override. But having said that, I’m always willing to sit down and talk.”

Councilwoman Cindy Wale said she spoke to an attorney in the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office who said the right path forward is for the council to override the veto, then sit down with the administration and try to work through the issues.

Moody urged both sides to try to work out their differences and “resolve this in an amicable way.”