APG operating budget increased 40% during Matassa’s tenure as Parish President

From the end of Tommy Martinez’ final term as parish president (2015) through the end of Kenny Matassa’s only term (2019) Ascension Parish Government’s (APG) annual operating costs increased by 40%.  That is according to the Audit Report delivered to the Parish Council on Thursday by Faulk & Winkler which provided the graph above. Just over $50 million to operate AGP in 2015, that number would be balloon to $72 million in Matassa’s last year.

Matassa inherited a total budget in the mid-$80 million range, which actually decreased in his inaugural year if “disaster-related costs” for the August 2016 flood are omitted.  The reason could very well be attributed to a shrinking Capital Improvement Project budget, reduced from $19 to approximately $9 million in the year of disaster.

NOTE:  Capital Improvement budgets spiked in 2017, again in 2019 in large part due to the MoveAscension road improvement project.

APG Operational costs still increased in the $5 million range for 2016, growing incrementally every year under Matassa who added approximately 150 employees to President Tommy Martinez’ final payroll.  Numerous other costs, in addition to salary, attribute to Operational Costs (insurance, retirement, rent, equipment, maintenance, etc.).

Matassa adds 140 employees, $5.3 Million to Ascension’s payroll (and counting)

Since taking office on January 6, 2020 President Clint Cointment has overseen a reduction of employees and corresponding payroll.

36 fewer AP employees, $1.5 MILLION salary reduction since Cointment inaugurated

APG’s cash position continues to increase, $285 million on hand at the end of 2019.  That is approximately $100 million added since the end of 2015, but $248 million of that revenue total has been generated through dedicated taxes.  Thus, $37 million in the General Fund may be spent at the Council’s discretion; which would be substantially more if APG was not subsidizing various Utilities annually.

That point was made driven home by two council members, Aaron Lawler and Corey Orgeron who were none too subtle about pushing an agreement for East Bank Ascension sewer treatment…

Ascension Council wants out of the sewer business

Still, the point is valid.  $4.27 million transferred to Ascension Consolidated Utilities District (ACUD) #2 last year?  Over the decades APG has been forced to acquire sewer treatment plants which have become non-operational, eventually accumulating 2,000 or so customers charged a flat $42.50 monthly rate.

According to the councilmen it has cost parish taxpayers $42 million over the last eight years.  Too avoid subsidization those customers would have to assume an additional $162/month according to Councilman Lawler’s math.