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Alexandria mayor files civil suit after city council overrides budget veto

Files petition for declaratory judgement, injunctive relief and temporary restraining order
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 11:28 AM CDT|Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The City of Alexandria and Mayor Jeff Hall have filed a civil suit in the 9th Judicial District Court in Rapides Parish against the Alexandria City Council after five members of the council voted Tuesday night to override his veto of the amended city budget. The lawsuit lists all seven council members individually and as members of the council.

On April 20, the city council amended the mayor’s proposed 2021 budget for the city. Mayor Hall vetoed the amended budget on April 27. A two-thirds majority of the council was needed to override that veto, which was accomplished Tuesday night in a 5-2 vote with members Gerber Porter, Jim Villard, Reddex Washington, Cynthia Perry, and Catherine Davidson voting in favor of the override. Councilmen Chuck Fowler and Lee Rubin voted against it.

The lawsuit states that “two of the City Council’s Budget Amendments violate the Home Rule Charter, and are thus legally impermissible.”

The City claims that without declaratory and injunctive relief, “the illegal and improper Budget Amendments will be implemented and enforced.” Specifically, the mayor said he had problems with the council’s decision to give more money to the Alexandria Police Department and one that defunded the city’s mayor-appointed public safety commissioner position that’s currently held by Daryl Terry. District 4 Councilwoman Catherine Davidson made this amendment and said they wanted to use Terry’s $113,183 salary as a new line item in the budget designated for recruiting officers for APD.

“The allotment of $2 million for police officer pay raises and increased fringe benefits will be a continuing obligation extending into future budget years; there have been no studies conducted and no funding analyses prepared in relation to the City’s ability to meet the continuing $2 million obligation for police raises and fringe benefits,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states that the budget amendment “nullifies the Mayor’s salary and fringe benefits negotiations with the Police Union; the cited Budget Amendment also significantly damages the City’s negotiating position as to any other Union Contract provisions that could be affected by the prospect of salary increases and additional benefits.”

Judge Monique Rauls has already granted the temporary restraining order. The full matter will be heard before her on May 17 at 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday evening, the City released a press release on the matter, in which the mayor talked about a plan moving forward.

“As mayor, my responsibility to the citizens is to ensure the City operates lawfully and in proper order. That is why we have taken this legal action. At the same time, we can address the pay needs of our police officers and city employees as well as drainage and all of the other important items in the budget without violating the charter,” Hall said.

“I’ve instructed our finance director to immediately develop a new, balanced budget with the officer pay plan in mind,” Hall said. “We all want to see our police officers receive well-deserved and significant pay raises, quickly. Importantly, I want those pay raises to be sustainable for years to come. My goal is to have those raises in place by July 1, and make them retroactive to May 1. The new budget will also include additional funding for demolition, drainage projects and raises for all employees. As the legal process plays out, it is our intention to work with the City Council to finalize a budget as soon as possible.”

You can read the suit below:

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