The proposed Calcasieu Parish Budget for 2012 is a 426 page book that explains what money they expect to have coming in and how much they plan to spend. And though overall numbers show they expect to spend about 12% less next year, Calcasieu Police Jury Administrator Bryan Beam explains that is mostly because of the timing of capital improvement projects, which often take place over several years. "Probably the main reason you see a decrease on the capital side, is over the past couple of years we have put a lot of funds into the road program and there were several big projects. So, you're seeing that level go down a bit in 2012."
Despite earlier concerns about declining sales tax revenues, dollars have held steady. And they are allowing for a three percent increase in operating expenses. Said Beam, "That is actually less than inflation right now, so that's not a great deal. Our departments have done a great job holding down costs."
As well, Beam they have come up with a new employee job classification plan that upgrades salaries. As proposed, employees will get a pay increase of two per cent or 35 cents per hour or the new minimum pay rate of their new job classification, whichever is greater. They hope it will reduce turnover and make it easier to recruit new employees. "For instance, our detention officers at Juvenile Justice. It is hard to get and keep those people because it is challenging when a lot of other jobs in the community are paying more and may be a little bit easier."
Because voters turned down a proposed tax increase for courthouse and jail maintenance, Beam says they'll have to continue to use gambling funds for repairs. Says Beam, "For example the old courthouse roof needs to be replaced. That's a big job. We are in a position to have to use a lot of gaming funds for those type of costs."
To review the budget click here. There's a public hearing on the budget at 5 pm, Thursday, December 1.