VPPD cuts jobs; expenses rise over years

Ville Platte Chief of Police Neal Lartigue announced Tuesday that he would be making cuts to his department by eliminating 11 positions.
KATC TV 3 reported Chief Lartigue “confirmed that a restructuring of the budget called for some cuts.”
The chief told the Lafayette TV news station that “seven police officer positions were cut.”
He continued, “Three already were vacant and won’t be filled along with four cadets waiting to attend the police academy.”
KATC reported that two custodians and two part-time workers would also be losing their jobs.
While these cuts occur, Chief Lartigue said, “No active officer who is working the streets was laid off.” According to the chief, his department will end up having 12 officers working the streets, and therefore he said, “So, we’re still in good shape.”
In terms of why the cuts are being made, Chief Lartigue told television news that it has to be done to “stay in line with the budget.”
In response to the cuts being made, Ville Platte resident Arthur Sampson told TV 3 he believes cuts should be made elsewhere. Sampson said, “I just feel like it’s wrong that he’s cutting the police department. I think they need to look at everything across the board. I understand the police department may be over in some areas, but I think the city needs to look at what’s going on at city hall, too. I think they’re putting everything on the police department, which the police are needed more than anything.”
A further look into this matter led the Ville Platte Gazette to review the expenditures for the Ville Platte Police Department over the last 10 years, which showed an increase in expenses totalling $1,157,223 from the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2009 to the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2018.
A break down of those numbers is as follows:
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2018 - Police expenses $2,601,990.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2017 - Police expenses $2,613,597.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2016 - Police expenses $2,005,106.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2015 - Police expenses $1,976,148.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2014 - Police expenses $2,048,200.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2013 - Police expenses $2,085,177.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2012 - Police expenses $1,963,645.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2011 - Police expenses $1,715,404.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2010 - Police expenses $1,425,107.
•Audit for the year that ended on June 30, 2009 - Police expenses $1,444,767.
According to Councilman Bryant Riggs, in each of these years, expenses not only increased but also exceeded what the city had budgeted to spend in the police department.
Cuts to the police department come just two weeks after Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine announced the city would be looking at amending the budget and making cuts.
During the city’s council meeting on February 12, city attorney Eric LaFleur said the cuts were necessary because “the law essentially requires a balanced budget within a range of five percent.” He also stated, “We’re a little over halfway through the fiscal year, and property taxes have already come in. That’s one of the main annual revenues we looked at, but with everything else it’s not going work.”
A press conference regarding budget cuts was set for 3:00 p.m. at City Hall. Look for details from the press conference in Sunday’s edition of the Ville Platte Gazette.

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