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Minden City Council again fails to OK budget; impassioned exchange punctuates meeting

“If we don’t have a budget passed by Sept. 15, we throttle back to 50%,” mayor says
Tempers flared and voices were raised after a special meeting during which Minden City Council...
Tempers flared and voices were raised after a special meeting during which Minden City Council members again failed to adopt a city budget.
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 3:18 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:03 PM CDT
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MINDEN, La. (KSLA) — For the fourth time, Minden City Council members have failed to adopt the city’s annual budget.

Mayor Terry Gardner says the deadline to pass a budget is Sept. 15. This means on Wednesday, the city will only have half of 2020’s budget to work with until a new one is passed.

A special meeting was held Monday, Sept. 13 to discuss the city’s annual budget.

“It is sad that $11,000 is what is holding this city up,” District D Michael Roy told those gathered in the council chambers.

He was speaking about raises for the city’s economic development director, Phillip Smart, and Human Resources Director April Aguilar, which appear to be the main reasons for three council members’ resistance to approving the budget proposal.

At last week’s meeting, the council also delayed approving the 2021-22 budget.

All city council members attended last week and the vote was 3-2 against passing the budget. District A Councilman Wayne Edwards, District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker, and District C Councilman Vincen Bradford voted against passing the budget.

“Until they can come together, be transparent, come to my office, talk with me, and see how we can solve the problems, like several of the other council members have, we are at a standstill,” the mayor explained.

“It’s not that I don’t want to move the city forward, I want to move the city forward every day. And we are going to continue to move the city forward even at 50% throttled back . We have to have council members who love this city, are compassionate about this city and don’t have a personal agenda. Emphasis on the personal agenda.”

District E Councilwoman Pam Bloxom voted yes to approve the budget. She believes the city can go four months without passing a new budget.

“I just hate this for Minden,” Bloxom said. “We have such wonderful people here and they do not deserve this. Minden does not deserve what it has been dealt these last two years. We are going to keep trying to get the budget passed.”

Also on the meeting’s agenda was a vote to authorize the polling of the city’s utility customers about salary increases for Minden’s fire and police personnel.

Before last week’s regular city council meeting, the mayor posted on social media asking Minden residents whether they would be willing to accept an additional $4 charge on their utility bill each month to increase first responder pay and incentives.

Minden residents can comment with their name and address underneath the post on the city’s Facebook page, email the mayor directly at mayor@mindenusa.com or send a postcard in the mail to 520 Broadway St. with their information.

At Monday’s special session, the council voted to authorize polling utility customers regarding salary increases for the police and fire departments. District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker and District C Councilman Vincen Bradford voted against the proposal.

Following the special session, there was a tense exchange between the mayor and District C Councilman Vincen Bradford that resulted in law enforcement stepping in to separate the two.

KSLA News 12 reached out to Gardner and all the city council members regarding the special session. Only the mayor, Bloxom, and Councilman Michael Roy responded.

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