St. Landry council OKs budgets, legal journals

The St. Landry Parish Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted 2013-14 operating budgets for several Community Action Agency departments.

Parish government took control of the CAA and fired longtime Director Donald Robinson last year after an internal audit revealed deficits for several agency-run programs.

On Wednesday, the council approved a $338,897 budget for the CAA’s senior companion program, $540,100 for transportation and $355,898 for the community block grant program.

Parish President Bill Fontenot said the CAA has operated as a parish government agency for several years but Wednesday was the first time its budget has been presented to the council for approval.

In a budget hearing before the regular council meeting, Fontenot said the CAA provides services to the indigent on a parishwide basis.

After the budget hearing, Fontenot said the CAA serves about 5,000 residents per month with programs than include transportation assistance, commodities and aid for utility payments.

Fontenot has said due to last year’s CAA’s deficits in St. Landry, the handling of the parishwide weatherization program has been assigned to Avoyelles Parish. The CAA receives local, state and federal funding.

Other items discussed during the meeting included:

INTERNAL AUDIT: The council approved an internal general fund audit for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31.

Steve Moosa, who represented the firm of Darnall, Sikes, Gardes & Frederick, which prepared the audit, said St. Landry parish government is “pretty much debt free in respect to the general operations.”

According the audit, the parish ended 2012 with a $2.914 million fund balance. The general fund had $5.312 million in revenues and $5.364 million in expenditures.

The parish began the fiscal year with a $2.977 million fund balance.

Fontenot said the audit shows spending on parishwide road maintenance was $300,000 more during 2012 than the previous year. “That was done with $100,000 less in operating expenses,” he said.

The St. Landry Parish Airport, which is operated by the council, experienced a $31,000 profit in 2012 due to the sale of aviation fuel and the rental of hangar space, Fontenot said.

“That type of profit has never been experienced in the history of this parish,” he said.

LEGAL JOURNALS: The council, by a vote of 11-1, also approved appointing the Opelousas Daily World and the Eunice News as the council’s official legal journals for 2013.

The Daily World served as the legal journal in 2012, Fontenot said, while the Eunice News was the legal journal in 2011.

In their proposals, the Eunice News listed its current price per column inch as $4, while the price for each column inch in the Daily World was $2.88.

Fontenot said the cost for publishing legal notices last year was $14,000. The council’s cost for publishing legal news in both newspapers this year will be about $28,000, he said.

Councilman Jerry Red Jr. voted against having both papers as legal journals. Councilwoman Fekisha Miller-Mathews was absent.