Westlake passes budget in 11th hour

If they haven't done so already municipalities across Southwest Louisiana are trying to pass budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. That includes the City of Westlake. The fiscal year starts July 1st.

At Tuesday night's special meeting, Westlake Mayor Dan Cupit explained despite ending the year with a $600,000 surplus, the 2011 -2012 budget will be operating with $1,200,000 less than the previous year.

The proposed $10,600,000 operating budget was voted down immediately by council members Wally Anderson, John Cradure and Bob Hardey. Discussion went back and forth over concerns about that proposed budget. Among the concerns - pay raises. Council members finally agreed to pass the budget in line with last year's budget along with several proposed amendments.

Not passing a working budget would have came with big consequences: on leased equipment at the golf course, police and fire departments as well as the city's bond rating.

"We had to come up with some common ground. Now we can work forward together as a council, as a staff, and as a mayor. We can all work together to get this city running straight with a good working budget," said Jimmy Ashworth, Westlake Finance Director. "We're going to get everything ironed out and moving forward. We've got a lot of good things going on in Westlake. We have a lot of good programs and we want to continue that."

Their next meeting is July 11th. The new proposed budget with amendments would have to be introduced, then allow a period for the public to view. In order for the amendments to pass they need the approval of three of the five council members.

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