Gonzales budget prepares for economic growth along Hwy 44

Gonzales City Council adopted the Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 on Monday; $16,105,790 in the General fund with $13,208,446 earmarked for Capital Outlay.  As in every year, the city’s greatest expense is the Police Department ($5,847,000) with the Fire Department coming in a distant second ($3,578,000).  Road projects ($4,933,387) and Wastewater Treatment improvements ($3,948,000) account for  2/3 of all budgeted capital improvements.

As always, the city relies heavily on sales tax revenue.  It accounts for nearly 74% of anticipated General Fund revenues ($14.8 million) with another 15% generated by Franchise Fees and Licenses/Permits.  Sales tax funds 22% of the Capital Outlay Budget which enjoys substantial grants ($2,198,387) and 1/5 of the DEQ Revolving Fund loan available ($15 million) to increase Wastewater Treatment capacity.  :

That low interest (.95%) loan will go toward “proposed wastewater projects, including the construction on a major expansion of the city’s wastewater plant in preparation for economic growth on the southern limits of the city.”

Staging area at front of Conway subdivision, where Hwy 44 road improvements recently began

Burnside Ave (Hwy 44) has long been eyed as Gonzales’ next commercial corridor, increasing horsepower of the city’s humming economic engine (those retail outlets Hwy 30 and Airline Hwy).  Edenborne Parkway, which attracted River Parish Community College and Emerson Process Management a decade ago, was supposed to kick-start the engine before sputtering to a standstill along with the national economy during the mortgage crisis/meltdown of 2008-09.

Nearly $5 million in road Capital Outlay is highlighted by improvements in the same area; “an additional lane to the south of the city along the Conway Development…$2,118,387 of the road improvement projects will be from federal grant funds.”  The city took in a section of N Burnside from Louisiana DOTD a few years back in return for a credit being applied to the additional lane described above.

An east-west connector road (linking S Burnside to S Darla St) is included in the budget to “provide additional access to the hospital (Our Lady of the Lake-Ascension) and provide some relief to traffic congestion along Hwy 30.”  Heritage Crossing…

Heritage Crossing artist’s rendering of connector road

the development at Hwy 30’s intersection with S Burnside, is building the connector road to the hospital’s property line, with the city planning to extend it to S Darla.  The project is a prominent part of the city’s Master Transportation Plan.

Heritage Crossing will house Gonzales’ Performing Arts, Convention and Events (PACE) Center.