Oct 30, 2012 11:17 PM by Maddie Garrett

New Iberia Budget Cuts: Layoffs and Reduced Benefits for City Employees

The City of New Iberia will lay off nine city workers because of budget cuts. In all they've reduced the 2013 budget by six million dollars and the council approved the budget Tuesday night in a four to three vote.

"Y'all laying off other people when what we should have done is quit all that remodeling and building, that's what we should have done," said council member Peggy Gerac during the meeting.

Gerac voted against the budget, saying enough wasn't done to prevent the layoffs. However Mayor Hilda Curry said they saw this problem coming but hoped sales tax revenues would increase. But that didn't happen and they're now forced to make tougher cuts.

"We put it off hoping that things would get better but we're at that point now where some difficult decisions had to be made," explained Curry.

Another issue Tuesday night was health insurance and benefits for retired city workers. There was a proposal to reduce those benefits and coverage in order to save money, however a dozen or so current and retired firefighters came to the meeting to protest those cuts. The firefighters cited a 2003, 1/4 cent sales tax passed by voters that could pay for their benefits. They said the fund had generated $3.5 million dollars that was available to pay for retiree's benefits. The council agreed and left firefighter benefits in tact.

"They substantiated that yes we agree, the citizens of new iberia want these benefits for the firefighters and I'm very appreciative of the fact that they did recognize this," said retired New Iberia Firefighter Thad Desormeaux.

As for the rest of retired municipal workers, the mayor said they just don't have the money this year to continue paying those benefits. But she hopes the city can generate more revenues to pay retiree benefits in the future.



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