[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish council members meet to discuss monthly fees and layoffs

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Aug 14 19:19:20 EDT 2012

St. Bernard Parish council members meet to discuss monthly fees and layoffs

Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 8:31 AM Updated: Tuesday, August
14, 2012, 3:10 PM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

The St. Bernard Parish Council Executive Finance Committee is scheduled to
meet at 6 p.m. today in council chambers to further discuss proposed budget
cuts. Last Tuesday, the Parish Council introduced an ordinance that, if
passed at next Tuesday's council meeting, will add $27.51 to residents'
monthly water and sewer bills and could force the layoff of 92 parish

Already this year, 94 parish employees have resigned, retired or were fired.
An additional 92 layoffs would bring the parish employee count down to about

The parish administration has proposed three options that would provide a
balanced budget despite a projected $2.3 million deficit for the remainder
of the year and a $10.2 million deficit for next year. Parish President Dave
Peralta is adamant that the parish is not suggesting any one option and
instead is leaving that up to the council to decide.

If no additional monthly fees are levied, the parish could lay off 174
employees and still reach a balanced budget, according to the
administration's estimates. In order to have no layoffs, the parish could
add a $55.03 monthly fee, the parish estimates. In turn, the $27-fee option
is a compromise that includes both layoffs and additional fees.

Each of the three administration proposals is based on an estimate of about
14,700 parish households.

Several council members have indicated that they would favor placing the $27
fee up to a vote of the people in December.

Wednesday in council chambers to discuss budget options and explain the
parish's financial predicament.

The previous St. Bernard Parish administration had predicted $21 million
from 2012 sale tax revenue. But after realizing that sales tax revenue had
dipped about $5 million to $6 million in recent months, the current
administration that took office in January now anticipates coming up $10.2
million short of budget projections next year and is quickly scrambling to
find additional revenue and cost-saving measures.

The $27 fee and 92-layoff option would generate about $3.2 million by the
end of this year, or about $9.6 million annually. The loss of about 60
parish employees earlier this year -- the parish lost 94 employees but hired
37 new employees -- saved the parish about $1.6 million.

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