MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On December 7, 2022, reports confirmed that the Fourth Judicial District Court officials are close to taking legal action against the Ouachita Parish Police Jury due to the Police Jury declining to dedicate taxpayer funding to assist with revenue shortcomings. According to the Ouachita Citizen, neither Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew nor the judges at the Fourth Judicial District Court received the amounts they requested from the Police Jury.
A total of $2.2 million was requested by the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office at a recent budget meeting. COVID-19 was cited as the cause of declining revenue.
According to officials, the district attorney’s office was projected to lose over $1 million in 2022 after losing $748,000 in 2020 and $460,000 in 2021. The district attorney’s office asked police jurors to assign $2.2. million to its America Rescue Plan Act fund instead of the Police Jury’s main operating or general fund.
According to officials of the district attorney’s office, the office advised multiple police jurors that they have made every budget cut that was possible. Also, the district attorney’s office is concerned about giving employees raises and not losing more workers.
A police juror offered a motion for the Police Jury to give approximately $1.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the district attorney’s office. Another police juror offered a motion for the Police Juror to give the district attorney’s office $500,000; however, other police jurors voted against a $500,000 infusion.
According to reports, judges with the Fourth Judicial Court asked for $563,000 and mentioned that they experienced similar problems as the district attorney’s office. Judge Walt Caldwell mentioned that after the court made multiple budget cuts, the court still found itself in a financial hole.
Caldwell went on to mention that he did not have any knowledge of how much the court will need in 2023 due to the changes they have made to eliminate costs. A police juror offered a motion to give the court approximately $275,000 and another police juror asked to award $150,000 to the court, using the American Rescue Plan Act funds assigned to their district.
Reports mentioned that the Police Jury voted to give the court $275,000 from their general funds and $150,000 from one of the police juror’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Three judges at the budget meeting mentioned that they need to have a discussion with all of the judges to determine if they will request more money or take legal action against the Police Jury.