- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

GONZALES, La. (AP) - Ascension Economic Development Corp. officials are considering how to retrench in the face of a 75 percent cut in funding from the city of Gonzales.

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/ROCWUR) he’s considering vetoing the budget the council passed in a 3-2 vote this month because of the drastic cut to the economic development group other issues.

But meanwhile, the AEDC finds itself looking at new budget figures halfway through its fiscal year.

With a staff of three, “there’s no fat in our budget,” said Mike Eades, president and chief executive officer. “The proactive marketing, the strategic initiatives may have to be cut back.”

The nonprofit AEDC receives most of its funding, about $322,000, from the Ascension Parish government. Its second-largest source of revenue until this month was $100,000 from the city of Gonzales, which the council has slashed to $25,000.

Gonzales Councilman Terance Irvin, at a council meeting on April 28, had proposed amending the city’s general fund budget to reduce the amount the AEDC was receiving by $75,000.

Irvin, who could not be reached for comment, had said he wanted to reallocate the money toward funding for an $800,000 study of an I-10 service road between La. 30 and La. 44.

Gonzales operates on a fiscal year from June to May, so its severely downsized funding for AEDC is to take effect June 1, when the city’s new calendar year begins.

The AEDC, on the other hand, operates on a calendar fiscal year and is nearing the halfway point in its budget.

The result of the reduced funding from the city may be a scale back in projects underway, Eades said.

One big project currently in the works is the identification and certification with the state Department of Economic Development of potential sites for new development in the city and parish.

Certification means the property has been screened for such issues as environmental, archaeological or wetlands conditions.

The AEDC has been looking at more than 20 such properties, all more than 25 acres, with six of them located in Gonzales, Eades said.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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