Though not directed toward the proposed budget itself, comments on the city council’s handling of the adoption process were voiced during Tuesday’s special meeting. Lee Lawrence read two letters–one from himself and one from Amy Thibodeaux, president and CEO of the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce–criticizing the council’s actions.
Prefacing that he was speaking “as a private citizen,” Lawrence first addressed the council on his own behalf. “I think you all are well intentioned–although, with due respect, there is some propensity for grandstanding, enjoying the microphone and several of you seem to like to have the last word on every issue,” he said. Lawrence explained that he had spoken to “veteran council members” and “it seems that some aldermen want to run the city like a business,” complete with monthly profit/loss statements, balance sheets and more.
“The council is not a private corporate board and, in my opinion, it does not need to wade into the detail of the financials on a monthly basis,” he said. “That is the job of the mayor and his administration, and I’m sure he knows that he must be held accountable.” Lawrence said that, as he sees it, it’s the mayor’s job to put forth the budget then report quarterly to the Finance Committee and council on variances and any need for amendments. Committees also can make recommendations to the council for amendments.
“To me, the council is devoting an inordinate amount of time to the administrative aspects of the city administration, particularly the budget,” he continued. “It seems that you have varying opinions, and certainly objections, but in your several meetings I have yet to hear an amendment being offered. Bottom line, I’d just like to encourage you to spend more time on broader policy issues and topics that relate to the progress of our city.”
Thibodeaux appealed to the council to make a greater effort to work together and show a united front. “While we do not believe the council and mayor must agree on every issue, we are appealing to both parties to put differences aside and function more cooperatively and in a spirit of compromise,” she wrote. “We ask also that you consider the public image being created by your action, or failures to act, and the headlines and reporting that ensues. Our news is read throughout the parish and beyond.”
“Moreover, prospective businesses and prospective residents that do research on digital media before relocating are not seeing a good picture of us,” she continued. “As you know, we have hundreds of acres along I-10 subject to potential development, and we never know when we are being passed over for a location that has a more positive image.” Calling Acadia Parish “a gem with countless resources” and Crowley “the economic hub of the parish,” Thibodeaux, on behalf of the Chamber, appealed to the mayor and council “to finally put this budget issue behind and seek out a more constructive way of working together in the future.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the budget for fiscal 2020-2021.
To see Amy Thibodeaux’s full letter to the council click here.
Article originally published in The Crowley Post-Signal on Thursday, October 22, 2020.