Independence budget troubles linger

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 25 at 6:21 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

INDEPENDENCE, La. -- A budget dilemma in the Town of Independence remains unsolved Tuesday.

The mayor canceled a meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that would have taken up possible cuts, across the board, including public safety.

Mayor Mike Ragusa said closing businesses and the reductions in jobs at LSU’s Lallie Kemp hospital, which is based in the town, has lead to a budget shortfall it wasn’t expecting when the $1.6 million spending plan was passed two months ago.

He said the budget is being reworked now for the council’s consideration.

"We're trying to get this with our goal of what we need to do for the town to keep the town going," Ragusa said.

The mayor said while every department has been asked to make adjustments, there’s a predicament with the fire department’s growing costs, because the city shared control over that spending with the parish fire district.

Ragusa said that’s what is holding up the full city budget.

“They just really need to look at it," Ragusa said, "and I just feel like, and everybody feels like, that they just don't need that many people."

The department heads in the line of fire for this budget talk, including the fire chief, are staying quiet on the subject. So are the people who have to decide on it, the aldermen.

But one parish representative has plenty to say on the issue.

"It seems like in the last couple of years, there is a constant situation to where the city is asking the parish to do more and more and they're doing less and less," said Tangipahoa Parish Councilman Carlo Bruno, who represents the Independence area.

If some resolution can’t be found, it could lead to the parish taking over nearly the entire fire department.

"We're having trouble keeping firemen,” said Bruno, “They're always under the constant threat of losing their jobs and that's just not a good working environment and we need it to come to an end."

A rescheduled meeting is set for Thursday night where the impasse with the fire district board will be the only topic, according to the mayor. He said talk over the budget will hopefully be taken up at the next council meeting in two weeks.

 

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