Webster Parish will be operating under a budget of just under $24 million after members of the parish police jury unanimously approved the 2015 document during their meeting Tuesday.
Secretary Treasurer Ronda Carnahan told jury members the total budget of $23,994,278 reflects an increase of roughly $3 million over 2013. The largest share of that increase comes from library tax revenue, Carnahan said.
“The reason for the increase is the library passed a new bond issue and paid off the old one,” she said during a budget workshop prior to Tuesday’s regular meeting. “They got the money in and that accounts for most of the increase.”
“That means the real money we’re using to run the parish is about the same as last year,” jury president Jim Bonsall added.
A little more than a half million dollars in increased tax revenues and another half million dollars from the state also helped the budget, Carnahan said. The capital outlay money is part of a $1.2 million package the jury is hoping for to upgrade the courthouse HVAC system.
“We’ve already been approved for $540,000 and that’s reflected in the budget. We hope we will receive the additional $700,000 in the 2015 funding year,” Carnahan said. “It’s for upgrade and replacement of the HVAC equipment. We have equipment which came with the building in 1950.”
Part of the equipment, which is nearly 65 years old, is the heating and cooling system’s boiler, which Bonsall said has already been patched. “The boiler is cracked and you can only do so much to it,” he noted.
Largest contributors to the 2015 parish budget are the library tax ($3,106,038), the parish sales tax ($3,150,000) and ad valorem (property) tax revenues ($2,174,698).
Biggest expenses in the budget are the library ($6,093,645 or 25 percent), public works ($4,421,650; 18 percent) and contingent funds ($5,853,773; 25 percent). Contingent is money that is required to be set aside for the landfill to cover possible environmental issues.
There’s good news in the new budget for parish employees, Carnahan said. All police jury workers will receive a 2.5 percent annual pay raise. Also, the retirement system contribution has dropped from 16.75 percent to 14.25, Carnahan reported.