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Basile cutting the budget to make ends meet

Posted: 5:09 PM, Apr 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-03 23:35:21-04

The town of Basile is making cuts to try to balance their budget.

The most controversial cut has been the elimination of the police department’s dispatch office, which employed five people and cost the town about $100,000 per year.

Now, citizens who need help can call 911.

The cuts were needed because the town has been struggling financially since the private prison closed three years ago. Mayor Mark Denette tells us the town was doing well financially when the prison was open, but since it closed, finances are tight.

It actually may be safer for Basile residents to use the 911 system, said Liz Hill, director of Evangeline 911.

“The people of Basile, I know a lot of them are used to calling the local police department there. It would be better for them to call 911 directly because we would be able to get more info on them,” Hill said. “If they couldn’t talk because someone was breaking into their house, we’d at least be able to pinpoint their location.”

The town’s council voted in February to cut the five dispatch positions after receiving a letter from the state Legislative Auditor, offering the town some assistance in budgeting. The auditor noted that the town overspent its 2018 budget by $107,000 and overspent its 2017 budget by $110,000 and was on track to overspend this year as well.

The January letter indicated that the town would run out of money in February if all bills were paid on time and estimated that the town needed another $189,000 in income to finish the year following the budget.

Evangeline Parish 911 will charge the town about $300 per month to handle all police calls, the mayor said.

Hill said her crew is ready to add Basile to the list of Evangeline Parish towns who direct their emergency calls to the center.

“What we had to do was add some radio equipment to handle the Basile radio traffic,” Hill said. “We currently dispatch for the Turkey Creek Police Department, Pine Praire, Chatignner and all the fire departments in the Parish, so our dispatchers are trained and certified to be able to dispatch police departments, law enforcement and fire departments they need to go to.”

Chief Allen Ivory Jr. said he isn’t in favor of the cuts. He said Basile residents are used to seeing a familiar face when they come in to make a complaint, and with the dispatchers cut, there will be no one at the police department after 6 p.m. if both officers are on patrol.