Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

Jury hacks program budgets

policejuryMultiple program directors told the Webster Parish Police Jury they have received letters notifying them next year's budget would be reduced – drastically in some cases.

Head Start and Community Services must find a way to trim their budgets by five or six percent, while 68 percent will be clipped off the Governor's Office of Homeland Security budget.

Community Services Director Mary Whitaker said an employee who resigned last month was not replaced and the responsibilities of that position have been absorbed among the employees.

"We are meeting to discuss ways to trim our budget," she said. "We will still provide services and we hope not to lose anyone. It will require thought and care, but we will do the best with what we have."

Wanda Finley, Director of Head Start, echoed Whitaker's disappointment and resolve.

"These services are needed in the community," she said. "We will still provide this program to children and parents. Head Start not only gets these children a foundation to enter school, but it provides access to dental and medical care and educates parents – from helping them get a GED to understanding how to be a good parent."

Finley said Head Start will be able to continue to operate with its current employees and will cut costs by shortening the length of the program.

"We will start weeks later and end weeks sooner," she said. "We believe this will be the best course of action."

John Stanley, with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, said the near 70 percent cut will have drastic effects for his organization.

"This is a real issue," he said. "We are looking at directors losing jobs and more... We have enough to finish out this fiscal year, but after that I don't know what is going to happen."

Other business

Chris Broussard spoke to the jury, thanking them for their years of support for Cultural Crossroads.

"Normally, when I come see you, I come asking for money," she said. "But today is different. Cultural Crossroads has been working toward finding ways to generate its own income, and we are seeing the results of that now."

A resolution for Doerge Landing has been accepted, making the jury liable for the property, now that the state has finished construction.

"It has taken since (the year) 2000 to get to the point of people using it and fishing off it," juror Daniel Thomas said. "The bulk of why this is completed now is because of Rep. Everett Doerge, and it is good to see it all come to pass."

Minden City Councilman Joe Cornelius spoke to the jury, asking if they would partner with the City of Minden in placing a sidewalk on Sheppard Street near apartments where residents frequently walk or ride motorized scooters.

"The city said they would put up a third, if the jury put up a third, and I hope to get the other third from the Sheppard Street Apartments," Cornelius said.
Juror Charlie Walker said partnering in such a circumstance could present issues.

"I'm not against helping anyone," he said. "But municipalities already get funding from the jury.

"Cities of Minden and Springhill get $16,000 a year to do whatever they want with," he continued. "And the other towns get $8,000. If we do this, we open the door for every municipality to ask us to help with projects."

Jury president Jim Bonswall said it would be discussed in the next road committee meeting and an official response would be given.

Susan Baird with Webster Humane Society reminded the board that services are offered by Dr. L. Stewart and Dr. Randy Clemons, who help with the parish's Spay Neuter Program.

"They are taking on additional responsibility for the parish," she said. "If one of the rescues doesn't have room for the animal, Dr. Stewart and Dr. Clemons will try to place it.

"They are doing a great job in reducing the number of strays in the area," Baird continued. "And we are fortunate to have them partner with us."






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