Hammond council OKS 2013-14 budget

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a budget with employee raises for fiscal year 2013-2014 that anticipates about $35.8 million in revenues and expenditures of approximately the same amount. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

The budget is projected to raise about $17 million from the city’s one-cent sales tax, the major source of city funds. Approximately $5 million is anticipated to come from ad valorem taxes. Additional earnings come from licenses and permits, fines and forfeits, interest earnings and other sources such as grants.

Major spending items on the budget are for police protection, $8.7 million; the fire department, $6 million; insurance, $4.2 million; streets and grounds, $4.2 million; for maintaining and operating the city’s water and sewer system, $3.2 million; and debt service, $2.1 million. The city will spend millions on more than two dozen other entities that are part of the cost of operating the city.

The budget includes funds for raises for city employees. Those with service from 1-20 years will get a 2 percent raise and employees working 21-30 years and those with over 30 years or earning more than $75,000 will get a one-percent raise.

Mayor Mason Foster said the budget reflected the changes sought by council members during the planning and review process.

The council also accomplished the following:

CARE PLAN APPROVED: The council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Mason Foster to enter into a contract with Immediacare beginning July 1. The city’s health insurance consultant, Henry Powell, explained that Immediacare, a service that provides nurse practitioner care in the home or work place, will save the city money by allowing for less costly treatment for common ailments to city employees on a voluntary basis.

AIRPORT DRAINAGE WORK: The council unanimously awarded a $985,000 grant to Lawson-Bonnet Construction for drainage work at Hammond’s Northshore Regional Airport. The work will be paid for by an aviation grant obtained through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said Airport Director Jason Ball.