Three-fifths of the Council budges on budget…finally

Well, well. Minden has a budget. And wonders of wonders, the previous 3-2 nays became a 5-0 go-ahead Monday night. It sorta boggles the mind that we saw a unified city council. Can’t say it was a kumbaya moment, but it was the closest thing since there was no swearing-at during the swearing-in. 

Take the vote for what it was. Not only does the city’s expense account double, we save money because the Attorney General won’t be charging us for expenses to come up here and hand out subpoenas. That, Rocker’s pipeline so informs, was next on the council agenda if the budget vote had gone south one more time.

While no one among this group should throw his/her shoulder out of joint patting themselves on the back for a job well done, perhaps they may be allowed one attaboy to go along with the previous five what-the-hecks. 

Speaking of shoulders, Rocker wants to wish councilchairoccupant Ms. Walker a speedy recovery from what’s obviously a painful shoulder injury. Rocker noticed she was unable to raise her hand all night to cast a vote when called upon to do so. Come to think of it, this must be a long-standing injury. 

Reviewing previous meetings, that right hand just doesn’t seem to be able to get in the air. May we suggest a cure until the pesky voting machine is repaired? Maybe Hizzoner should stop asking the council to raise hands. Ask for a voice vote. That’ll work until shoulder pain is replaced by laryngitis.  

How did we finally reach a budget agreement? Very simple. We “saved” a salary and gave up on a promise. Economic Development Director Phillip Smart got smart and turned in his keys to the circus tent. He’s going to Ruston, and their gain is our loss. At $42,000 a year, Smart’s salary paled in comparison to other cities. When some councilpersons got irritated bowels over a promised $6,000 raise, Smart was in a spotlight he neither wanted nor deserved.

Even at a raised figure of $48,000 he would have been making far less than his predecessor who checked in at a nobody-raised-hell-about-it $72,000 plus perks (including, we hear, an office door that was seldom open) that ran the tab up significantly. Smart’s biggest problem? Council didn’t get to say yes to hire and wasn’t told squat about a raise. 

Broken promise came in the form of a raise for April Aguilar, the city’s head of human resources. She’s paid $50,000 annually and was promised by Hizzoner that 10 percent would be added if she did a good job. From reports Rocker’s heard, she’s doing more than one job and doing all of them well. But, that promised 10 percent raise raised hackles and put shackles on city money. News says she’s agreed to a six percent raise. How sweet of the council to agree, as one member said, with “the handbook” and its raise limits.

What handbook? Ain’t nobody signed off on a handbook yet, but the lady with three other jobs is still working on it. And the person with shoulderitis will soon run out of excuses.

Before we forget. Council gets one attaboy. Now, seatsitters, thanks for the chance to dole out a couple of not-so-goods. NSG number one. Why did you not add the hiring of three new police officers to your agenda? If the reason is the same ol’ “we didn’t get to interview and approve” stuff again, just say so and somebody will do something about that. 

And, Mr. Bradford, if you’re anxious to hold off on more officers, quit asking why STEP money isn’t up to your standards. Fewer bodies on the force means fewer bodies to dedicate to an additional patrol program. But, Rocker hears Bradford and crew will address these new officers at a special council meeting. You know, that’s those meetings where a quorum is an iffy proposition.

Number two: Why’s it taking so long to get signatures from two council districts on documents that will mean millions for infrastructure improvement? Is there a move afoot to stymie progress in districts A and B? Probably not in Mr. Edwards’ area, because he’s helping.

Don’t know how it’s going in Ms. Walker’s district, but it’s possible she’s physically unable to help knock on doors. It’s that injury, you know, that prevents her from raising that arm.

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