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Amite council accepts budget, eyes bill increase

Photo by Connor Raborn

NO REZONING – A building stands across from the Tangipahoa Parish Fairgrounds at North 2nd Street and Reid Avenue in Amite on property that will remain residential and not be rezoned as commercial as per a vote from the Amite Town Council on Tuesday.

by Connor Raborn reporter@hammondstar.com

The budget for the fiscal year which begins next month was unanimously accepted as is by the Amite Town Council Tuesday.

The new budget and the amended one for the fiscal year which ends June 30 were introduced during the May meeting, and no input from the audience occurred during the public hearing Tuesday night before the vote. The council also unanimously accepted the amended budget.

Among the projects budgeted for the coming fiscal year - July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020 - are an extension of West Mulberry Street past North 2nd Street behind Walgreens as another route out of downtown Amite and possible moves for the police department and driver's license office.

The new budget doesn't differ greatly from the previous one and accounts for around $5.8 million income for the town and expenses north of $5 million, leaving $725,115 extra.

Council Member Kris Hart added to the agenda the introduction of a $1 increase on customer's garbage collection bill. If it passes the council's vote in July, it would be the first rate increase since 2005, when rates went from $9.40 to $9.70 a month for customers within town limits.

The rate would also increase by $1 for customers outside town limits, who currently pay $19.40 per month for garbage collection.

"The landfill has gone up, and we've been eating the increase of this for years," Hart said.

Tipping fees at the landfill have increased 3.5 percent every three years for the past 12 years. Amite spent $288,620 on sanitation in 2018, with a revenue of $293,010.

Charles Binder and his relatives attended Tuesday's meeting to ask the council not to rezone the property at 315 N. 2nd St. from a residential to commercial, citing the unanimous decision of the zoning board to keep it residential. The town council unanimously accepted the zoning board's decision as part of the minutes from the meetings held in May.

Hart also moved to accept the low bid to have houses at 518 and 520 W. Martin Luther King St. demolished, an issue that had been tabled at the May council meeting. The council unanimously approved the demolitions.

Police Chief Jerry Trabona spoke about adding items for his department to the upcoming budget, but the council recommended he table the matter and work out the details with Town Clerk Mary Lou Lee.

Council members Rose Sumrall and Jonathon Foster were absent from the meeting, which still achieved quorum with the remaining three council members, Hart, Neil Currier and Emanuel Zanders III.