Mar 18, 2014 17:24 Cravins again asks Opelousas board to cut salaries Cravins again asks Opelousas board to cut salaries Aldermen again send proposal to Budget Committee BOBBY ARDOIN| Special to The Advocate March 18, 2014 Comments Donald Cravins Sr. OPELOUSAS — The Opelousas Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday night to again have its Budget Committee take up a proposal by Mayor Donald Cravins Sr. to reduce the salaries of the aldermen and mayor. But this time Cravins put numbers to the proposal: cutting the mayor’s salary by $11,022 a year and the aldermen’s salary and vehicle stipend by $2,869 a year. Cravins stressed during the past several months that in his opinion both the mayor and aldermen earn too much for a city the size of Opelousas. The population is somewhere between 16,634 and 23,000. According to Aldermen Reggie Tatum, the mayor earns $72,000 a year, while the aldermen each receive $21,000 a year, which includes the monthly vehicle stipend. The salary reduction issue, in the form of an ordinance introduction, has been placed on the meeting agenda every month since October, but the aldermen have either refused to discuss the issue at a regular meeting or sent it back to the Budget Committee for consideration. Tatum said the difference on Tuesday is that Cravins presented the aldermen with a specific proposal. The amounts proposed by Cravins were not discussed at the meeting, but Tatum said they include a base annual mayor’s salary of $60,978 and $13,931 for each of the aldermen. In addition, the aldermen would still get the monthly $350 vehicle allowance they currently receive. In another budget matter Tuesday, Victor Slaven discussed an audit report showing that the city’s general fund budget for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2013, had a $568,000 surplus. Slaven, who represented the auditing firm of Kolder, Champagne, Slaven, & Company, noted the city’s general fund budget had also reflected a surplus of about $700,000 during the previous fiscal year. “This is a good report in my opinion,” Slaven said. He said the projected surplus for 2012-13 was $138,000. “Every (city) department cut its budgets except for the police department,” he said. Slaven did note that the city could eventually run into financial problems if it has to pay all of the $1 million in alleged outstanding legal claims currently filed against it. Cravins said claims include what he said are “a whole host of things. What you do with those is pay them when money becomes available. If there’s no money, you won’t pay,” he told the aldermen. REDISTRICTING: The board voted to conduct a public hearing April 8 to consider a redistricting proposal presented by demographer Mike Hefner. The city has five election districts and one alderman selected as an at-large member. Hefner said the city has 16,634 residents, according to 2010 census numbers. That number was disputed by Cravins, who said an examination of municipal utility bills shows the city has experienced a slight population increase over the 22,963 counted in the 2000 census.