Last week we began a summary of the budget structure and process under a proposed home rule charter plan of parish government.
The total expenditures proposed in the budget should not exceed anticipated revenues. In keeping with this financial prudence, supplemental appropriations to the budget would normally be made depending upon there being an excess of revenues beyond that originally anticipated.
Emergency appropriations necessary to respond to circumstances affecting life, health, property, or public peace could be made by borrowing money if none is available from unappropriated funds. The council would be authorized to adopt an emergency ordinance to that effect.
Appropriations may be reduced anytime the president determines that insufficient funds are available to meet the amount appropriated. Except for appropriations for debt service or amounts required by law, the council may reduce any appropriation at any time by ordinance.
The president would be responsible for submitting an annual capital improvement budget at or before the time for submitting the regular operating budget. The capital improvement budget would cover at least five years and would address relatively large, expensive and permanent projects such as major roads, public buildings, recreation and drainage. The amount shown in the first year of the five year budget would be the amount for the current year.
Incurring indebtedness in violation of the provisions of the charter would be illegal.
Any appropriation not expended by the end of the fiscal year for which it was budgeted will lapse. If three years passes and no disbursement has been made of appropriated monies, then the purpose of that appropriation shall be considered abandoned.
The council shall not call for a referendum to incur bonded debt before commissioning appropriate feasibility studies with a summary of those studies published in the official journal of the parish at least forty-five days prior to the proposed date of the election to determine whether to proceed with the project and indebtedness.
Citizen initiatives to address any issues the council refuses to entertain would require a petition with the signatures of 15% of the registered voters in the parish in order to qualify to be placed on the ballot.
Any citizen initiative adopted by a vote of the electors could not be repealed by a vote of the council for at least one year after the initiative’s adoption. However, the council may submit to the parish electors any proposals to amend or repeal the ordinance.
The charter might be amended or even repealed in like manner as would be other ordinances, that is, by the electors’ approval of a proposal submitted by two-thirds vote of the members of the council or else submitted by petition containing the verified signatures of at least 15% of the qualified electors of the parish.
Should a charter be adopted, all previously established special districts such as the fire districts and school districts would remain in effect to complete and accomplish the fulfillment of whatever purposes and obligations for which they were originally established by the electors.
Fees and taxes levied by the parish government or approved by the electors would continue to be levied and used for the approved purposes for which they were adopted and in the geographic areas to which they were previously dedicated.
The police jurors of the parish would continue to serve discharging their duties until the officials elected under this charter are sworn and take office. Thereafter, the office of police juror would cease to exist.
This concludes our brief preview of a possible form of home rule charter for Catahoula Parish.