Council member explains action on budget votes

Dear Editor,
The recent news of the City of Crowley’s 2021 budget has been of great concern of late and I feel I should give an explanation from the view of the council members who voted not to have the public hearing on August 25.
It is common knowledge that Mayor Monceaux and most of the City Council are new to the positions which we have taken.
Last year, we worked together on the budget with some council members being involved along with our department heads. We were all learning. We vowed to do a better job the following year and allow for enough time and effort to be placed on this very important part of our service to the community.
Myself and another councilman suggested that the Mayor begin working on his budget earlier the following year. This was done under the Jones administration and most budgetary matters were settled by July.
Even though our City Clerk is very capable, our independent auditor suggested we hire a CPA. The council agreed with this recommendation and voted in the affirmative this past Spring.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a challenge to budgetary issues. The City was faced with possible layoffs and an unsteady tax base. The City Council had to have meetings online and City Hall was closed.
Unfortunately, Mayor Monceaux was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was placed in the hospital in Lafayette in the latter part of July. He is still recovering, and I pray for his health to continue to improve.
Yet, with these challenges, the budget should have been a priority and ultimately completed by the Mayor in June. Additionally, no department heads nor the CPA were consulted. These department heads intimately know what their departments need, and the City Council has always been a major influence on the budget due to Louisiana’s system of checks and balances.
The Council received the budget on August 5th after not receiving any information on the document for several months. We, therefore, had one week to digest the budget and approve or disapprove of a date for public hearing.
Upon learning of the situations listed above and after hearing Alderman Core’s statement, six of us voted against the public hearing set for August 25th. Mr. Core’s statement can be heard on our video account of the meeting wherein the main issue was to give the mayor time to prepare the city budget properly.
Louisiana’s law concerning the budget, as well as best practices exercised by most communities in the area, are predicated on allowing substantial input from these individuals. One of the greatest powers that any City Council has is to approve the yearly budget.
Several approved items, amounting to millions of dollars, such as the Ballpark Restoration, were not included in this document. Placing millions of dollars in limbo is unwise and does not serve the needs of our citizens, who often value certainty in a time such as this.
The onus is solely on Mayor Monceaux to present the council with the budget in a timely manner. Proper time and careful consideration should be allowed for this important task. Public funds should be of the utmost importance, especially in this challenging time.
I look forward to working with the council and Mayor Monceaux in the future.

Kim Stringfellow
Ward 1, Division B

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