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Pine Prairie takes a hit to its budget, proposes pay raise

During their November 12 meeting, the Village of Pine Prairie Council introduced the 2021 Fiscal Year Budget. The new budget shows cuts in Capital Outlay expenditures in the police department and also in the general and administrative department. The original Capital Outlay budget showed the police at $45,000 but in 2021 it’s budgeted for $30,000. Meanwhile, the General and Administrative department is proposed to go from $20,000 to $10,000. West said the reason for the cuts is because GEO, the ICE processing facility, is not getting enough business, so the village, in turn, is not receiving the revenue they used to receive.
Also in the new budget is an increase for the mayor’s salary and allowances. The office of mayor currently garners $21,600 annually for salary and allows $6,000 for expenses. The proposed change would raise the mayor’s salary to $26,400 with an expense allowance of $8,400.
There will be a public hearing on the budget on December 10, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. at the Village Hall. Also scheduled for December 10 at 5:00 p.m. is a public hearing to discuss an ordinance concerning the proposed increase of the mayor’s salary and expenses.
In other business, the council adopted an ordinance which would provide restrictions on demonstrations and parades. This is in response to the unruly protest that took place outside GEO in August. The village previously had no regulations in place, but now there are rules in place to provide a more orderly event. Some of the new rules concern how long the event can last and what time of day it can be held, and all requests have to go through the chief of police. Additionally, organizers must obtain a permit. “We want to be better prepared,” said Mayor Quint West. “There will be guidelines, and the chief of police is going to play a major role in that.”
West announced property owners are now cleaning up their blighted properties. Also, work crews have been cleaning ditches, but there are still culverts that need cleaning from the storms. West said the council should create an ordinance to dictate when people can put out their trash. He said some people leave their trash out all week and it gets in the road, and stray dogs and wildlife get into it and make a mess. Also, when strong storms come, it blows the trash around. “It’s all over the road,” said West. “It’s a problem.”
West asked councilman Gilbert Bordelon to ride through town at night and make a list of street lights that are out. West said he called CLECO and they told him it would cost around $800 to change one street light, so the best option is to replace the bulbs with LED lights.
Previously, councilwoman Tammy Hammond requested a street sign for autistic children for a family that lives near the ballpark. West said they have obtained the sign and it has been put in place.
The Christmas parade and tree lighting will be Saturday, December 5 with the parade beginning at 3:30, and the tree lighting at 5:00 at the Gazebo. Mayor West said they will start working on the tree next week. He is looking to borrow a lift because lifts are difficult to obtain right now because of the recent storms.

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