Incoming mayor, council looking for transparency, change

Published 12:25 am Sunday, June 14, 2009

Incoming council members and the mayor are planning to work together to fix the problems of the city while promoting transparency.

The new administration has been established. City Clerk said affidavit ballots were not significant enough in the general election races to change the outcome so they were not counted. Therefore the previously announced winners of the election stand. Those new members of the incoming administration include mayor-elect Ed Pinero Jr. and council members-elect precinct one Larry Watkins, precinct two Lynn Bogan Bumpers, precinct three Jason Todd Lane, precinct four Larry Breland and precinct five Wayne Gouguet. The new administration will be sworn into office July 6, at 5:30 p.m. at the city hall. The new administration’s first council meeting will be held July 7.

Pinero said as mayor he plans to provide leadership and work with the council in an effort to solve the city’s problems. He said the first thing the incoming administration should do is have a meeting with the city manager and city clerk to develop a plan to balance the budget and identify available revenues. That plan will help the administration determine what efforts can be taken immediately and which ones might take longer.

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To establish county-wide teamwork Pinero plans to introduce the new council to the Board of Supervisors. That meeting will possibly involve forming a list of county wide projects to present to congress so federal money can be sought to conduct that work. Pinero said in order to complete the Memorial Boulevard project a request for $4 million has already been submitted to Congressman Gene Taylor’s office and is on his list of priorities.

The city and county working together will help both entities secure future appropriations, he said. Returning council member Watkins would also like to see the county and two cities work together for the betterment of the entire county.

When the budget is balanced and the city works with the board of supervisors Pinero believes the city will see great success.

Breland said he realizes there are problems in the city and asks the public to be patient as the new administration works to address them.

“The mistakes I make, if any, will be of the head and not of the heart because my intentions are to do what’s right,” Breland said.

One way to fix the finances of the city on the utility end will be to address the large number of outstanding unpaid utility bills. To fix that problem Pinero would like to see cut off policies strictly enforced.

Council member elect, Jason Todd Lane said the incoming members need to put personal agendas aside and work for the betterment of the city as a whole. He would like to work on the city’s drainage problems fixed in every precinct. Gouguet agrees drainage problems could be addressed with a master plan.

To fix other issues in the city a list of priorities would be formed by establishing what is the most important and working their way down, Gouguet said.

Both Gouguet and Lane see the city finances as important goals that need to be looked at. Gouguet wants to open the finances up for public inspection. Lane wants to ensure the city is fiscally responsible.

“If we all work together as a team I got high expectations,” Lane said.

Gouguet would like to get the public more involved and keep them informed by abiding by open meetings laws. Watkins would like to see the number of executive sessions reduced.

“I want transparency in the city government,” Watkins said.

Watkins said he’d like to see the administration have accountability and stability in their day to day operations. His long range goals include setting up a paving schedule for the entire city and establishing an organized schedule for the public works department. That way projects will be completed instead of forgotten about. Currently he has noticed that when a project is started at times the department might get sidetracked by another project.

“That’s the kind of things we got to get away from,” Watkins said.

Watkins would also like to see tax dollars spent wisely to get the most benefit for the city.

Bumpers was not available for comment at press time.