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Story Archives: Police jury to begin crafting 2009 budget Monday
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|Police jury to begin crafting 2009 budget Monday|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury will begin reviewing its departmental budgets Monday to prepare its 2009 spending plan.
Budgets that could be reviewed Monday, Oct. 13, include the ones for the parish's general fund, Green Oaks Detention Center, Mosquito Abatement and a few smaller departmental budgets.
The police jury will conduct a series of meetings over the next several weeks, reviewing different budgets, before a final budget is approved for the 2009 fiscal year.
Police juror Charles Jackson told The Ouachita Citizen last week that he expects departmental budgets in 2009 would be tight across the board.
The general fund will be extremely tight, he said.
During Monday's regular meeting, the police jury agreed to increase the millage rates for the parish's general fund.
The millage rate for the general fund (outside municipalities) was increased to 4.22 mills. Last year, that millage rate was 4.06 mills.
The millage rate for the general fund (inside municipalities) was increased to 2.11 mills. Last year, that rate was 2.03 mills.
"The general fund is truly our weakest link," Jackson said earlier this week. "It is the one saddled with all the state mandates. It's also the only one that has funds that are in any way discretionary."
"We know we've got additional judges coming in this year who will bring along additional staff," Jackson continued. "We've got remodeling to do. If there's a case to be made to roll (millages) forward, this is the one."
The police jury has already approved spending $40,000 to remodel the parish courthouse to free up more space for two new 4th Judicial District Court judges, who will join the bench Jan. 1, 2009.
However, the remodeling effort is a short-term solution. Jackson has said the police jury needs to continue working with the judges to come up with a long-term solution to the space problems at the courthouse. One option under consideration would entail the police jury moving out of the courthouse to another location.
The Ouachita Correctional Center and Ouachita Parish Public Library System budgets are two parish entities that Jackson believes the police jury will need to look at closely during upcoming budget meetings.
"Jail operations are extremely tight right now," said police jury president Walt Caldwell.
The parish prison currently houses about 1,000 inmates. About one-half of them are pre-trial detainees, which means the parish is not compensated by the state to house them, Jackson said.
OCC Warden Brian Newcomer also said he has encountered problems staffing the medical unit at OCC.
"We're often running days without medical, and we're looking at beefing that up to take care of what we've got," Newcomer said. "The more we can take care of on the compound, the less we'll have to transport to Shreveport."
Inmates who must be transported to LSU Medical Center in Shreveport are AIDS patients. Shreveport is the nearest city that provides AIDS treatment. Currently, there are about 20 inmates with AIDS at OCC.
Whenever those patients need to be transported to Shreveport, the cost is about $200, Newcomer said.
With police jury approval Monday, OCC will look into having a doctor come to the jail to treat AIDS patients, so they would not need to be transported to Shreveport.
Chief Deputy Jay Russell believes the jail can begin those doctor visits within a month.