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Minden city government will have half as much to spend come Oct. 1

City Council repeatedly has failed to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that begins that date
A heated exchange involving a chair erupted between Minden Mayor Terry Gardner and Councilman...
A heated exchange involving a chair erupted between Minden Mayor Terry Gardner and Councilman Vincen Bradford after officials met Sept. 13, 2021, and again failed to adopt a budget for fiscal year 2021-22. The deadline to do so was Sept. 15, 2021. The lack of a budget means the city's spending will be cut in half come Oct. 1.
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 4:24 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 8:31 PM CDT
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MINDEN, La. (KSLA) — Funding for the City of Minden’s operations will be cut in half starting Oct. 1.

That’s because city leaders repeatedly have failed to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that begins that date. The deadline to approve the 2021-22 budget was Sept. 15.

Since that date passed with no new financial plan in place, state law limits the city’s spending to 50% of what was authorized for this fiscal year.

Minden already was having to draw $2,225,428 from its reserves to make ends meet, according to the city’s 2020-21 budget.

That plan projected $34,816,405 in income against spending totaling $37,041,833. Limiting expenditures to half of that amount gives the city only $18,520,916.50 on which to operate until a new financial plan is in place.

That means Minden government could run out of cash on which to operate if City Council members again fail to adopt a budget when they meet at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 4.

The sticking point to date appears to be a combined total of about $11,000 in pay raises for two municipal employees, economic development director Phillip Smart and human resources manager April Aguilar.

Smart said legal action could be the next step if the budget proposal, as it is written with the raises, is not approved next week. “If that contract is broken, it would be a breach of contract, which would open it up to litigation.”

Mayor Terry Gardner explained to KSLA News 12 earlier this month that the raises were conditional on certain milestones. Smart and Aguilar both met those goals, the mayor added.

“I told (Smart), ‘What I’ll do in your contract is I’ll give you a $6,000 increase in pay when you bring an additional company that brings 10 full-time jobs,’' Gardner explained. “I brought (Aguilar) in at $50,000 and told her after she built the department and showed me that she could handle the workload, I would give her a $5,000 increase.”

Smart said he moved to the city for the position; it’s been an adjustment for his entire family.

“We came from Arcadia, Louisiana, and we moved to Minden because we felt like we wanted to be closer. And the mayor wanted us to live in the city, as well.”

While Councilman Wayne Edwards declined a formal interview, he told KSLA News 12 over the phone that it would be “in the best interest of the citizens to come to a resolution.”

Edwards said he is willing to make a compromise, if the mayor is willing to do the same. The councilman also said they have been openly communicating.

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