Parish budget balanced, but questions hover

An amended 2020 budget and a proposed 2021 budget were introduced at a special meeting Tuesday.
The 2020 budget includes an ending balance of $2,123,405 that is carried forward into the 2021 ending balance. The 2020 beginning balance was $1,574,569 — A $548,836 difference.
Amanda Cain, finance director, presented the budget and said, “I’m happy to say the 2021 budget is balanced.”
The parish finances faced uncertainty from hurricanes that battered the parish and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic caused revenue shortfalls mainly due to decreases in activity at Evangeline Downs and from video poker. Cain said the racino revenue dropped to zero at one point.
Another major question in the 2021 budget is if voters will approve a 1-mill, 10-year jail maintenance tax that that is projected to raise $687,000 annually. If the tax to be voted on Dec. 5 does not pass, the impact would be in the parish’s road and drainage programs.
Jessie Bellard, parish president, said the jail maintenance is a mandated expense. The parish would have to use racino funds now budgeted for road maintenance, which is not a mandated expense, for the jail maintenance and operation.
The proposed 2021 budget projects $2.340,000 racino revenue, up from $1,823,835 expected this year.
The road and bridge fund is to get 55% of the racino revenue, which this year is expected to be $962,985.
By ordinance, the racino money is split as follows.
Parish Government, 62.5%; General Fund, 6%; Road & Bridge, 55%; and Airport, 1.5%.
Coroner, 1.5%.
Economic Development, 5%.
District Attorney, 3.5%.
Registrar of Voters, 1.5%.
St. Landry Parish Municipal Assocation, 21%.
Parish Judicial System, 2%.
Parish Clerk of Court, 1.5%.
Parish Assessor’s Office, 1.5%.
An apparent bright spot in the budget is in 2017 the parish government began taking out a line of credit.
Cain outlined it as: $1.5 millon in 2017 with $1.3 million used; $1.5 million in 2018 with $879,000 used; $1 million in 2019 with $522,000 used; and this year the line of credit was increased to $5 million for a 10-year period, because of concern over disruptions due to coronavirus.
“We have been to stay afloat. We have not borrowed anything,” Cain said of this year’s budget.
The only borrowing that may occur is to increase hangar capacity at the parish airport in Opelousas.
The budget presentation also included the following.
Budget changes for the fiscal years 2020 and 2021:
• Revenues:
Video Poker
• 2020 Budgeted Amount – $550,000
• 2020 Actual Amount Transferred – $400,000
• Decline in revenue in the first half of the year due to the closing of casinos during the
stay-at-home order from the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Revenues began increasing during Phase 1.
• Town of Grand Coteau – $75,000 annual payment. Current balance owed is
$162,223.07. Next payment is due 02/01/2021.
• Revenue received for COVID related expenses.
Ad Valorem Tax Revenue
• Revenue expected to increase for 2020.
Adjudicated Property Revenue
• Utilizing unrestricted reserves of approximately $130,000 for 2021 that we did not use
in 2020.
• One-time payment for 2021.
Affidavit and Building Permits
• Increase in fees have generated approximately $180,000 more than the budgeted
• Fees are set by Ordinance.
~ Severance Tax Revenue
• Decreased by approximately $145,000 for 2020 and we anticipate that amount to
continue to decline for 2021.
Court Costs revenue
• Declined in the first half ofthe year due to the closing ofthe courts during the stay-athome
order from the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Revenues began increasing during Phase 1.
State inmate feeding revenue
• Revenue increased due to more state inmates in the jail.
• Expenditures have also increased due to more state inmates in the jail.
• State inmates couldn’t be housed outside of our jail during the pandemic.
• Currently housing 30 in the jail.
Facility Rentals
• Revenue decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racino funds
• Revenue decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Revenue began increasing during Phase 1.
• Still a 10% decrease compared to the amounts pre-COVID.
Administrative fees
• Hospital administrative revenue of $125,000 is anticipated
• Video Poker revenue of $125,000 was removed from the 2021 budget for the general
fund and budgeted in Road and Bridge.
• Expenditures:
Health Insurance
• Increase in the employee and employer’s portion of health insurance cost for 2021. The
health insurance increase for the employee’ portion is $479.04 per year and the
increase for the employer’s portion is $572.04 per year per employee.
Fuel cost
• Savings of approximately 40%. Varies in each fund.
• Vehicles not being allowed to be driven home except when on-call in 2020.
Dues & Subscriptions
• Increase for new accounting, payroll, and permit software for 2021.
GA travel expenses
• Decrease due to the new Parish President not taking a travel allowance or turning in
Professional fees
• Increase due to legal fees for 2020 that we will not have for 2021 since the line of credit
is for two years.
Election Expense
• Parish President Election for an estimated cost of $135,000 budgeted for 2021.
Capital Outlay
• Applied for capital outlay through the state.
• State match requirements for 2021.
Juvenile Detention Expenses
• 2020 Budgeted Amount – $65,933
• 2020 Actual Amount Projected – $134,880
• Substantial increase budgeted for 2021.
Prisoner costs
• Housing off campus concerns.
• Cost – $26.39 per day per inmate.
• Currently have 48 housed off campus. Cost – $38,001.60 per month.
Airport Transfer
• Decrease of $15,000 in transfers to the Airport Fund for 2020.
• No transfer budgeted for 2021.
Council Expenses
• Per Council’s request:
• Increase in Council travel budgeted for 2021.
2020 Budgeted Amount – $10,959
2021 Budgeted Amount – $15,000
• Regional Meeting hosted by St. Landry Parish budgeted for $6,000 for 2021.

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