Rockin’ Chair

Budget? We don’t need no stinkin’ budget.

There are times when sittin’ in this rockin’ chair gives us a view of things better left unseen. This most recent city council set-to was one of those.

After watching the actions, or more appropriately, the inactions of the hired hands, thoughts from Rocker wafted to Sir Winston Churchill. With apologies to one of history’s master wordsmiths, we twisted one of his famous observations.
“Never was so much disappointment heaped on so many by so few.”

Once again, our city governing body declined to approve a fiscal year 2022 budget. The vote, 3-2. No comments, no reasons offered at the time. Maybe that was a good thing. The hands were, after all, on the record and Honest Abe had something to say about remaining silent.

With that vote, the city will now be obligated to follow state law R.S. 39:1312. As the Legislative Auditor interprets…“If at the end of any fiscal year, the budget has not been adopted by the governing authority , then only 50% of last year’s final adopted budget is deemed to be appropriated for the current year. This 50% limitation continues until a new budget is adopted.”

Half to spend on everything. That might not be so bad if seat-sitter salaries are halved. And, while law is clear about the half spending, it’s not clear which (if any) state agency will monitor the discount spending which must be regularly reported. Any volunteers?

While the law is clear that the cut rate continues until a new budget is adopted, who knows when that will be. One would have to have the wisdom of Solomon to know when, and the patience of Job to wait for this bunch to agree on anything.
And yet again, our folks turned down another state grant (as in, free money) during Tuesday’s show. This $75,000 would have been dedicated to a new animal shelter. The squabble, we heard, was over the location. Or should we say, the Mayor’s preferred location.

Ah, but we understand. It would have been too easy to take our returned tax dollars and discuss where to spend it later. The dogs and cats can wait until their humans display their superior intelligence. That could take the life span of a Galapagos Land Tortoise.

Maybe it’s just coffee shop gossip, but what we heard from the rocker is ignoring the budget deadline boils down to salary increases for a couple of the Mayor’s hires. Seems a promised raise to a couple of mayoral hires raised hackles among some on the governing (?) body.

Could there have been a compromise? Only the uncompromising know for sure. But digging in heels often makes heels of those who sit in the supposed power seats. It’s a big responsibility to show who’s really in charge.

One counciler suggested adding salary increases for the city’s police officers and firefighters. A workshop, he said, could be scheduled to work on details for an amendment to the budget. That idea died with the non-budget.

To understand the plight of first responders, one must take a step or two in their shoes. Rocker hasn’t met more than a finger-full of elected officials who will run to the sound of gunfire or into a burning building.

While considering whether or not these servants deserve a tad more for their lives, maybe we, the great unwashed, should call our dedicated public officials when an emergency arises. If they respond, we’ll gladly take up a collection and pay them thirteen dollars an hour for their service.

A final word: To quell a rumor, this child is not cynical. Rocker just watches government and reports the facts.

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