Webster Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) approved its 2012 budget during the December 6 meeting. The budget showed an increase of $310,000, a difference of almost 1.6 percent from last year.
According to WPPJ Secretary-Treasurer Ronda Carnahan, the increase is due to normal yearly increased costs of operation.
"Our budget on the whole has not changed that much this year from last year," Carnahan said. "We've had no increased revenue. We've really not had a big decrease in revenue."
Homeland Security is budgeted to receive a new vehicle on state contract to replace an existing vehicle that is incurring increased maintenance costs and decreased reliability.
WPPJ employee salaries automatically receive a two percent cost-of-living increase every year. Due to elimination of one position and resulting increased duties, seven employees will receive step increases of five to eight percent. Jurors did not receive any pay increase.
Economic development funding totaled $20,000, with $5,000 going for the first time each to North Louisiana Economic Partnership and Holiday Tour of Lights. I-69 was allotted $2,000 again. The remaining $13,000 will be determined during the course of the year.
Arts and museum funding totaled $50,000, with $25,000 going to Dorcheat Museum, $20,000 to Cultural Crossroads and $5,000 held back for later use.
Pay increases ranging from 5.3 to 5.5 percent were also requested by 26th Judicial District for court reporters. WPPJ was also requested to pay postage expenses for the district.
District judges requested new sound equipment in courtrooms A and B and video conferencing equipment for courtroom C. The sound equipment should be installed soon, but the video equipment will wait until 2013 unless funds can be found outside of WPPJ budget.
Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 23.12 percent increased contribution for a yearly total of $13,800.
Trailblazer will receive an increase of funding to $4,500 and Sparta Groundwater Commission will remain the same at $5,000.
The 2012 budget was accepted by unanimous vote.
"Just because the money is budgeted doesn't mean we have to spend it," WPPJ President Charlie Walker said. "We have a responsibility to not spend more than we take in."
Prior to the jury meeting, a road committee meeting was held where a number of projects were approved. Most of the projects were to be funded by the municipalities and bodies requesting them.
Other agenda items covered in the Jury meeting were:
Outgoing Jurors C.C. Cox, Steve Duggan, and Jimmy Thomas were presented certificates of appreciation for their service to Webster Parish.
Resignation of District 5 Juror C.C. Cox was accepted and Perry Kirkland was sworn in to fulfill Cox's unexpired term. Cox, who lost his seat in November's elections, left early to fill a Cotton Valley alderman position. He replaces Alderwoman Arnese Parish who died November 18 as a result of injuries received in a June church van crash.
Hayes Farm Road was officially closed and parish maintenance ended because the road was a dead end and had no residents or businesses on it.
A resolution for WPPJ Office of Community Services signature authorization for Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development passed. The resolution is a standard operating requirement that must be passed each year.
Annual budget for North Louisiana Criminalist Laboratory Commission was approved.
Ten businesses received beer permit renewals and five received video poker permit renewals.
Various board appointments were also approved. Barry Smith was appointed to replace deceased Fire District 6 board member LaVain Williamson. Henry Hobbs was re-appointed to the library board. Randy Crittenden was appointed to Evergreen Fire District board to replace Wayne Kilpatrick who resigned for health reasons.