Mayor Reiterates Need to Work Together to Resolve Budget Impasse
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Alexandria, La. (June 10, 2021) — Rather than pursuing personal agendas, Alexandria City Council Members need to put city employees and Alexandria residents first and work together with the administration to create and approve a balanced, fiscally responsible budget that meets the day-to-day operating needs of the city said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall.
“My focus is on finding solutions to the challenges facing this city. And to me that means everyone needs to set aside their egos, opinions and personal agendas and work together for the good of the people of Alexandria,” Hall said Thursday morning during a press conference at Alexandria Convention Hall.
Hall noted his administration has been working to address the needs of the entire city since he took office. “As Mayor, I am responsible for overseeing the operation of all of the city’s departments. I can’t be singularly focused on one aspect of a single department. I am responsible for ensuring that all city departments are able to continue effective operations including police officers, fire fighters, sanitation workers, line mechanics and water system operators and all the people needed to provide essential city services residents pay for with their hard earned tax dollars.”
Regarding the current budget, Hall explained that an amendment to allocate an additional $2 million to police salaries resulted in an unbalanced budget. “I am 100 percent in favor of increasing pay for our police officers. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. We all want to see increased pay for our police officers, especially the patrol officers,” Hall said. “While I understand the eagerness of some council members to quickly address and resolve the issue, we didn’t get here overnight, and we’re not going to magically correct the problem simply by allocating a large sum of unsustainable money to a line in the budget.”
In addition to increasing pay, Hall said he is also working to increase benefits for officers as part of negotiations for a new contract with the police union. “The talks between the union and the administration have been very good,” he said. “We have agreed to create the most generous incentive program in the state of Louisiana, and our attention now turns to the pay portion of the contract. That is why we commissioned a pay study to look at what other law enforcement agencies are offering in terms of compensation. To the critics that say we don’t need a study to know pay is too low, we do need a study to analyze the current market to craft a fair compensation plan.”
Hall said he was disappointed the council voted to reject a resolution made at the June 1 City Council meeting by Councilman Chuck Fowler encouraging both sides to work together to resolve the current impasse. “At this point, battle lines appear to be clearly drawn with one vocal council member steering four other members down an ill-advised path that creates animosity and discourages the selfless teamwork needed to work together for our community,” Hall said. “Despite that, I remain committed to working together for Alexandria. I will not waver from my commitment to the employees and the residents of the City of Alexandria to serve the best interest of the city as a whole and to defend our Home Rule Charter. That is my duty and obligation as Mayor, and I will not be bullied or intimidated into not fulfilling my oath of office.
“I renew my call to all members of the city council to work together to create a balanced, sustainable and fiscally responsible budget that complies with the city charter and meets the daily operating needs of the City of Alexandria. I ask everyone to put aside their personal ambitions and agendas and practice the selfless public service our residents and employees expect of all of us.”
Hall concluded by saying, “We can do this – and if we work together we can do it in the next few weeks. In the past 12 months we have seen two major hurricanes, two ice storms and a global pandemic. Through it all, we have persevered. I am humbled and amazed by the resilience of our residents and city employees. I continue to believe we can achieve our goals as long as we are all willing to work together Alexandria.”
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