Council Struggles Depleted Budget
Plaquemines Parish President Kirk Lepine and his administration presented the 2021 proposed budget to the parish council at the public budget hearings on November 16 and 17. At the end of those two days—after the council had tediously “amended” the budget—31 parish employees were scheduled to be laid off by 2021 and every government department had their funding slashed.
In Lepine’s original proposed budget, several government departments (Safety, Recreation, Parks/Athletic Fields/ Swimming Pools, Coastal Zone-Land, Mosquito Control) and “community service grants” were defunded, and 87 parish employees were set to be laid-off so the Plaquemines Parish Government could properly operate within their ever-tightening budget. In general, every department or office that depended on PPG money was forced to accept a standard 20% decrease in their funding.
Both the council and parish administration had been ringing the alarm on the eventual arrival of this crisis since at least 2015—when the price of oil plummeted to around $40 per barrel from around $94 in 2014. Since then, the situation has only worsened. At one point, Plaquemines pulled in $42.2 million from “Oil and Gas Revenues” (that was back in 2013). Factoring in the Covid-19 pandemic and a continued decrease in oil production, PPG expects those revenues will be a dismal $7.7 million in 2021.
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