By Bonnie Culverhouse
A few sparks flew but for the most part, Minden City Council’s workshop Thursday went off without a hitch. It also went off with no definite decisions concerning fire and police pay raises, as well as water rate increases and the three ordinances up for discussion.
All five councilpersons attended the workshop, along with around 20 other department heads and citizens.
Police Chief Steve Cropper and two officers and Fire Chief Kip Mourad and three of his firefighters answered questions concerning the pay raises and councilpersons asked them to help determine how the raises would be funded.
“Our budget is tight,” District A Councilman Wayne Edwards said. “We don’t have any room at all for raises, but if you all will help us figure out a way, then we will do it.”
District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker said she appreciates everything the fire department does.
“And I appreciate the way you have handled this whole thing about the raises,” she said.
District D Councilman Michael Roy said he has some ideas on how to fund the raises but wants to talk with interim City Clerk Michael Fluhr before he would have something concrete.
Three prospective city ordinances were also on the workshop agenda, as well as a possible water rate increase.
A juvenile curfew ordinance brought about some heated discussion, as Lt. Joel Kendrick, vice president of the Minden Police Association, tried to explain the reason behind the proposed law, which would take young people 17 and under off the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on week nights, holding their parents or guardians accountable for their actions.
“It’s not to target the juveniles,” he said. “It’s to keep them safe.”
Minden District E resident Dennis Myles said he feels the ordinance is poorly written.
“It violates our civil rights,” Myles said. “You can’t legislate morality.”
After three hours of discussion, Mayor Terry Gardner asked the council to take the ordinances and other paperwork provided by department heads to study.
“I think this was a very productive meeting,” Gardner said. “Please take these ordinances and redline changes. I’m not going to put these on the agenda for a vote before we go over them again …. Maybe in about a week.
“I’m not going to put them on the agenda to fail,” he continued. “I want to put them on the agenda to pass to help our police officers.”
See next week’s Webster Parish Journal for more in-depth stories concerning the workshop items: Police and fire raises, water rate increases and three ordinances covering juvenile curfew, use of city parks and property and vacant structures.
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