One day after budget cuts at the Ville Platte Police Department, Mayor Jennifer Vidrine is speaking out.
Police Chief Neal Lartigue confirmed that a restructuring of the budget called for some cuts.
Seven police officer positions were cut, he said. Three already were vacant and won’t be filled along with four cadets waiting to attend the police academy, he said.
Also losing their jobs are two custodians and two part-time workers, he said.
The Mayor says she’s focusing on the police department’s budget because that agency is receiving the most money. The police department’s budget is nearly $2.4 million. The Mayor says that’s too big for a city the size of Ville Platte.
“Our police services are still here, they’re still intact and the budget cuts did not impact the services that will be provided to the people of Ville Platte,” said Vidrine.
She says it’s time to overhaul the police department’s budget. She says over the year’s, Ville Platte’s population has decreased, meanwhile the police budget has increased. That’s not her only concern.
“There has been excess overtime, excess time-and-a-half and a lot of that will be cut as well,” Vidrine said. “That will streamline the budget and more monies will be going to patrolling.”
Chief Lartigue declined an on camera interview, but said his hand was forced to make cuts.
Councilman Bryant Riggs said, “I mean, just honestly, I haven’t seen where the bang for our buck or where the return is on our investment with the money we’ve invested into safety.”
Riggs believes the department is not generating enough revenue and is actually costing the city.
“We have civil liabilities over $400,000 with the police department plus with the excess over budgeting. Somewhere along the way, we have to stop,” said Riggs.
The Mayor said she would like to see the department restructured to have more officers on the street and patrolling at night.
We did ask the mayor for a copy of the police department and the city’s budgets for 2018 and this year, but instead, we were handed a graph. KATC has a pending public records request to take a closer look at exactly how money is being spent in the city of Ville Platte.