One day after an intense special meeting by Opelousas city council, it seems the issue has been resolved. There were many questions about the 2017-2018 budget.
Almost three months after the budget was passed in October, one council member said she was told the budget was not ready when she asked for a copy. Officials said it was all a miscommunication. “It’s a little thing that people have kind of spun,” said Rod Sias, Chief Administrative Officer.
Budget Committee Chairperson, Sherell Roberts, said she was told their were discrepancies with the numbers. “We hadn’t seen the numbers that were supposed to be put in the budget. Once we adopted a budget, the numbers hadn’t been put it in the budget so we hadn’t seen an updated budget,” said Roberts.
The budget was approved for $17,900,671.000. Officials told News 15 some numbers were not updated in the budget due to miscommunication. There were also amendments that needed to be corrected by council. “It was their mistake and they called the budget meeting and basically they corrected the mistake and blamed the mayor for not having the budget,” said Sias. He said money that was supposed to go to one department was accidentally added to another department. A staff member caught the mistake and informed Roberts, but Sias said a chain of command was not followed before the special meeting was called. “Councilwoman Roberts did not contact myself or the mayor to say that there was an issue. She went talk directly to staff which led to some kind of confusion,” said Sias.
He said the issue could have been resolved in house. Both parties agreed communication between council and the executive office needs improvement. “We’re rebuilding our city and we are going to let them discuss the nuances of the budget, but we have serious work to do,” said Sias.
“What I think caused the confusion, there’s no communication between the executive department and the council members. They don’t communicate with us,” said Roberts.
As of Wednesday afternoon, council members received an update version of the budget in their email.