By Luke Britt
The proposed Union Parish Police Jury budget for the 2024 fiscal year anticipates a surplus of nearly $300,000 at the end of next year, funded in large part by a significant increase in interest earnings.
The budget also shows that the jury’s total expenditures in 2023 were only $1,377 over budget.
The proposed budget estimates expenditures of $2.1 million in 2024, which reflects a modest spending increase of $77,485 over this year. The additional spending is offset by an estimated $430,000 increase in interest earnings.
After years of earning almost no interest on the parish’s largest account – the Landfill Assurance Trust Fund – the Police Jury inked a new agreement with Origin Bank in July that will net the parish several hundred thousand dollars in new interest earnings.
The UPPJ main operating fund is a single account with multiple subdivided funds dedicated to the various programs and departments under the jury’s authority. These include the General Fund, into which most revenues are deposited before being dispersed to other funds, including Road Maintenance, Road Construction, Library, Unemployment, Airport, Off-Duty Witness Fees, Detention Center, Health Unit, Sales Tax-Landfill, Union Parish Litter Court, Union Parish Communications District, Collections-Sales Tax, ARPA, CDBG, HUD Section 8 and Homeland Security.
The General Fund is funded primarily through an ad valorem tax, essentially a property tax, of 2.790 mills, although it also receives revenue from various state and local sources, such as an alcoholic beverage tax, and from fees collected by various departments throughout the year, such as fees paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The jury will vote to accept or modify the proposed budget at a special meeting scheduled from Dec. 28, and the public can review the proposed budget at the Courthouse Annex in Farmerville.
Highlights from the proposed budget include:
The road maintenance budget for 2024 is $2,957,350, an increase of about $550,000 over 2023. The fund’s current balance of $1.073 million, plus a proposed transfer of $1.5 million from the General Fund total a little more than $2.6 million, so it is possible a supplemental allocation may need to be made at some point next year. It is important to note that road maintenance and road construction are accounted for separately.
Funds for new road construction are up slightly, from $864,000 in 2023 to a proposed $897,500 in 2024. The parish was able to spend quite a bit more on road construction this year than was budgeted, a total of about $1.7 million, because of the availability of federal Covid relief funds. Those funds will not be available in 2024.
The proposed budget estimates a shortfall of $118,460 in the Union Parish Library budget next year. The library is primarily funded by a 2.4 mill tax.
The proposed budget estimates that the Union Parish Detention Center incur nearly $3.8 million in expenses in 2024 on revenue of about $3.5 million, leaving the DC $200,000 short. Fortunately, the DC is ending 2023 with a fund balance of $775,000 to cover that shortfall. The DC has been largely self-sufficient in recent years due to the revenue generated by the Transitional Work Program that allows minimum risk inmates to work outside the facility and earn wages, most of which are taken by the detention center. However, TWP revenue took a hit when Foster Farms discontinued using TWP workers.
The Union Parish Landfill remains the parish’s primary source of local revenue, and the proposed budget estimates that the landfill will see an earnings increase of more than a million dollars in 2024.
UPPJ 2024 proposed budget unveiled
By Luke Britt