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What was left on the table: Consequences of the City Council Walkout

by Will Phillips

It’s been just shy of two weeks since two Councilmen walked out of the August City Council meeting, leaving the Council without a quorum and unable to conduct the business of the city. While they were able to get some agenda items passed, the meeting stopped short of passing some pressing matters for the city, including the annual budget, Tax Mills, and approving an agreement between the city and Centerpoint Energy.

One item on the agenda was to adopt ordinance No. 1120, which was an Agreement between Centerpoint Energy. This agreement would give Centerpoint energy the right to construct, install, operate, and maintain facilities for the transportation, distribution, and sale of gas in the municipality, and for such purposes, to use and excavate in the public highways, streets, sidewalks, allets, squares, commons, grounds, and other publicly owned areas, and levying a franchise (privilege) tax for that purpose. 

If this agreement is not approved, it would mean that the City of Minden would have it’s gas services provided by Centerpoint energy cut off. 

Annually the city levies Tax Mills for the upcoming fiscal year. The rates were unchanged from the year before, with the city levying taxes of 5.4 Mills as General Alimony Tax on all Taxable property located within the City of Minden, with properties in the Minden Downtown Development District assessed with an additional 2 Mills, making for a total of 7.46 Mills in that district. With the Mills not yet approved, the city would potentially miss out on the revenue that is generated from these property taxes.

Another item that was not not gotten to wouldn’t necessarily affect the City of Minden itself, but instead prevents it from helping out another city in need. The adoption of that particular resolution would authorize a purchase agreement between Minden and Morgan City which would have supplied them a transformer that they were in need of. 

“There is a city in need of this transformer, so they can supply power. They were prepared to come and pick that transformer up, so now we can’t help one of our cities within our state,” said Mayor Gardner. 

Last but not least is the approval of the City budget for the upcoming fiscal year. With the budget still having yet to be approved, the city runs the risk of having a significantly reduced budget to work with in the following year. To be precise, 50% of last year’s operational budget. This would mean that the city would have to make due with far less, delaying projects that would benefit the city and it’s citizens and potentially leading to layoffs of city employees. 

“If we don’t have a budget, we kick back to fifty percent,” said Gardner. “We need to get this approved.”

At the time of writing there has been no mention of a special session being held to approve these pressing items, meaning that it’s very likely that the next time the council will meet to take care of the city’s business would be at the September City Council Meeting. If that meeting were to go anything that August’s meeting, then the chances that the city would end up facing one or multiple of the consequences detailed above becomes ever more likely. 

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