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|Police jurors asked to rethink Green Oaks millage reduction|
Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center's advisory board and its citizens advisory committee want the Ouachita Parish Police Jury to reconsider its decision to roll back a millage rate dedicated to funding Green Oaks.
The police jury unanimously agreed last week during its regular meeting to roll back the millage rate collected for Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center from 2.91 mills to 2.65 mills.
On Monday, during the police jury's first budget meeting leading up to the 2009 fiscal year, the jury heard from Blake Wheelis, a member of the Green Oaks Citizens Advisory Committee.
He said the advisory committee voted unanimously Oct. 8 to ask the police jury to consider moving the millage up to 2.88 mills.
None of the police jurors at the budget meeting indicated they would consider the request.
Finance committee chairman Charles Jackson later said he would not be in favor of it.
Green Oaks director Mike Rhodes said he doesn't expect the police jury to make the requested change in the millage rate.
Wheelis told the police jury that a decrease in Green Oaks' millage lower than 2.88 "will begin to erode the excess cash on hand much too quickly."
"The 2.88 is what the advisory board originally requested," Wheelis said.
He said if the detention center continues its trend in dealing with more juvenile offenders, Green Oaks would eventually need more space.
"The balance that's there now could be used to provide some additional space if we needed, but if we're at the minimum balance going forward, we would not have enough to do that," Wheelis said.
He also said Green Oaks's millage will be up for renewal in 2010, and it will appear to voters that the parish will ask for an increase from 2.65 mills to 2.91 mills.
"I understand that would really be a renewal of what we got last time, but that's a mighty big jump to ask folks to do if we see we need to go all the way back up to 2.91," Wheelis said. "That will be an uphill fight."
Other issues of concern at Green Oaks include the rising cost of fuel, food, utilities and the state of the economy in general. Green Oaks has little control over these issues, Wheelis said.
Lowering the millage rate will reduce Green Oaks' budget by about $143,000 next year, according to Wheelis.
Also, Wheelis said Green Oaks is in the beginning stages of operating its new girls dormitory, and the new JADAC facility, adding to the cost of operations at Green Oaks.
"There's some unknown there because we haven't operated those in the past," Wheelis explained. "This is the first year of operating both those new additions to the facility. We'd hate to have surprises that we weren't ready for out there. I understand rolling it back … we promised we would do that if we could, but that's an awfully large roll back."
He said Green Oaks' advisory board and the citizens advisory committee have closely reviewed Green Oaks' budget over the years. Wasteful spending has never been a problem, he said.
According to Rhodes, the millage reduction will result in lost revenue of $130,000 for 2008, and a projected loss of $143,000 in 2009.
Rhodes provided the police jury with the Green Oaks 2009 budget Monday, which has a projected revenue of $2,693,757. Projected expenses for 2009 are $2,877,207.
Expenses exceed revenue in the projected 2009 budget by a total of $183,450