Council members abruptly walk out of Friday's budget meeting
Larry Breland leaving the Friday's council meeting.
Two Picayune City Council members walked out of Friday’s meeting at City Hall after, Item One on the agenda, a motion to approve capital projects, did not pass.
After the two mil tax increase was approved at last week’s meeting, the council held two budget workshops to discuss the changes in budget, with the goal of putting a plan in place that would allow the $180,000 generated from the increase to be distributed as salary increases for the police, the fire, and public works. (Read here) The purpose of Friday’s meeting was to approve the new budget proposal.
As stated previously the majority of the council planned on allocating the money with 45% of the $180,000.00 going to the Police Department, 40% to the Fire Department, and 15% to the Public Works Department. However two members of the council disagreed with the proposed plan and were attempting to convince the council to allocate funds for additional projects throughout the city.
Council members Larry Breland and Lynn Bogan Bumpers mentioned in budget workshop they wanted to add the request for funds at Friday's meeting. These funds would include adding approximately $70,000.00 to the budget for improvements for Picayune Cemetery on 8th Street and another $27.000.00 for park repairs would pass, a request Breland had made earlier this year but was denied. When it came time for the approval at Friday’s meeting Breland requested the motion to approve capital projects, however did not receive a second due to the fact that Bumpers had not yet arrived.
“This motion, this capital funding, includes the cemetery on 8th Street Cemetery and the parks, excluding Friendship park. This is my take on a millage increase and this is the thing that’s most needed,” Breland said. “The money that would be used for park projects should come out of taxes and what’s needed for the cemetery is already there. We want to do what was done at Palestine. It is totally wrong to do something in one place and not do something in another place. Friendship park projects come out of cash which is not included in the budget but it does not come out of anything else. If we can’t get it in the budget then that means it’s not gonna get done and it’s not fair to do something at one place and not at another place.”
“I’m sitting here today to say that everything we put on the agenda to get approval for is never done and I don’t understand why something as simple as this can’t get done. I think we should work for all the people not just some of the people. I feel so let down and I feel that some of the peoples are let down,” Bumpers said after she arrived. “Every time Larry and I come to try to do something no one wants to help. This is something I want to see done these last 4 years that I have here on this council. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything. I want to feel like I’m serving the people. I am just frustrated. I’m very frustrated.”
However since the vote was already taken by the time Bumpers arrived the board could not go back to the issue, which upset the two council members.
“If y’all are going to do it this way I’m going to let y’all have it because this is totally wrong,” Breland said as he got up and left the meeting.
“Can’t get nothing done,” Bumpers said as she walked out as well.
After the two left the council moved on to item two on the agenda; consider request to approve fiscal year 2018 proposed budget with out Capital Projects.
Council woman Tammy Valente made the motion to approve the budget, which was seconded by councilman Wayne Gouget. The motion passed with four votes.
The new approved budget will increase a Picayune Police officer’s starting pay to $14.22 an hour, the Fire Department’s pay will increase to $9.63 an hour, and have both been increased on a sliding scale. Civilian employees for public safety and all other city employees can be considered for merit increases that can be determined by their departments, Picayune City Clerk Amber Hinton explained.
The council closed the meeting by requesting a recess and will reconvene on Tuesday at 5:30pm.