State could take over City in less than a month as council fails to pass budget

By Josh Beavers

The city council failed to pass a budget Thursday night despite the imminent threat of the state taking over the City of Minden.

The council tabled the proposed $39 million budget following a motion by District A Councilman Wayne Edwards.

“I fully appreciate all the effort that went into the budget,” Edwards said. “As a matter of fact I applaud it.” However, he went on to say he had to object to the budget because of very serious concerns about three areas.

They are:

How much funding is going to the American Relief Fund and why

Salary increases for the city’s Human Resources director and economic development director

a review of salaries for the Minden Police Department

The Relief Fund was not discussed, but the salaries of the HR and economic development director were mentioned. General concern was regarding the promise of a $5,000 per year pay increase for the people in the positions.

Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker said the council needs to examine all city employees for raises and not just two positions.

Edwards said he asks for a review of police salaries because of monthly overtime numbers that sometimes tip over the $100,000 a month mark.

City Councilman Michael Roy questioned Edwards on the sudden move to table the budget. He asked what changed following four rounds of budget workshops between himself, Edwards, and Council members Vincen Bradford and Pam Bloxom.

The question was never answered and the discussion drifted into a rather curt exchange between Mayor Terry Gardner and Mr. Edwards about failing to return phone calls and emails.

The city has until September 15 to pass a budget. If it does not do so, the state will take over city operations and the operating budget drops to 50 percent of the previous year’s budget.

Once that money is exhausted, councilman Roy said it is his understanding the city will effectively be unable to run. Police will not be paid, people will be laid off, and a total government shutdown is possible.

As a result of Thursday’s action, the council will now continue to discuss the budget in workshop.