GREENSBURG — The St. Helena Parish Police Jury declined to throw its support behind a member’s proposal to economize by dismissing three parish employees and cutting a fourth from five days a week to three days a week.
Jury President Jule Charles Wascom had proposed that Grants Administrator Virginia Bell, Building Inspector Edward Scott Galmon and E-911 Director Shanedda Jackson be dismissed to save money.
Wascom also had suggested that Building Inspector Tresa Byrd’s work schedule be cut from five to three days a week and that Rita Allen be transferred from the Tourist Center to E-911.
Wascom’s proposal came during Tuesday night’s meeting in response to warnings from Terry Sibley, the jury’s certified public accountant, that budget reductions were critical to the jury’s ability to continue funding its programs at their current rate.
But after Wascom could find no support from the five other police jurors, his proposal was never voted on, although it did spark a lengthy discussion about the parish’s budget.
Wascom said in an interview after the meeting he would not pursue the matter and that as far as he was concerned the issue was concluded. He said that the Police Jury will seek other ways of cutting spending.
Sibley told the jurors that if spending was not curtailed in the near future, then the parish might face a “financial crisis.”
Sibley said that the jury had been overspending its income by about $200,000 every year for the past seven years. He said that in 2007, the jury had a surplus of about $1 million in its general fund. That money has dwindled to “a little more than $100,000,” Sibley said.
“The bottom line is that your revenue sources have been flat, the tax money you receive has not gone up in five years,” Sibley said. “Yet, you keep on spending more money each year. You just cannot keep doing this and stay fiscally responsible. I can only offer my advice, but you have to make the tough decisions and the sooner you do that, the better off you will be.”
Other issues arising during the meeting included:
STRIP CLUB: Police jurors took no action on a proposal to sign a revised contract with Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee lawyer said to be a specialist in writing anti-strip club legislation. Earlier, the jury had agreed to retain Bergthold for a fixed rate, but that proposal was rejected by the state Attorney General’s Office.
Bergthold offered a revised contract that would have charged the jury by the hour for his work with a cap on the amount that he would charge.