2012 may be good year for St. Helena finances

The St. Helena Parish Police Jury may break even for 2012, or possibly even run a budget surplus, if severance tax and gambling revenue projections hold through year-end, accountant Terry Sibley said Tuesday.

The Police Jury has run budget deficits totaling $863,840 during the past five years, according to parish records, and was projected to be in the red again for 2012.

However, severance taxes are now projected to be up $250,000 for the year, Sibley said.

With no real change in the timber industry, Sibley said, the increase is likely due to wells in the northwestern part of the parish that have begun producing oil from the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale.

Gambling revenues are also on track to end the year $40,000 higher than budgeted, he said.

Sibley presented the Police Jury with a preliminary budget for 2013 that does not assume the continuation of those revenue increases.

“That way, if there’s another windfall, it will help you build up a surplus,” he said.

Sibley suggested the jurors continue to seek ways to trim expenses.

Other business before the Police Jury included:

MOVING OFFICES: Sheriff Nat Williams received preliminary approval from the Police Jury to move certain divisions of his office into the parish health unit building.

The sheriff asked to use about 6,200 square feet of office space for his detectives, civil and criminal divisions and others under his jurisdiction.

The jurors voted unanimously to approve the proposal, but deferred discussion of the lease length, price and other details to an unspecified date.

Following the jurors’ vote, Registrar of Voters Mary Hall asked the Police Jury for permission to move her office into part of the space being vacated by the Sheriff’s Office.

The Registrar’s Office is currently housed in a first-floor room of the parish courthouse, which Hall said offers no privacy and is increasingly crowded during early-voting periods.

Jurors voted unanimously to approve Hall’s request, although it was not on the agenda.