Thirty minutes of oral arguments were heard this afternoon by a three-judge panel at the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit in Shreveport, on Essmeier v Jonesboro, a suit filed in March of 2011 that challenged the legality of two ordinances enacted by Jonesboro’s Board of Aldermen.
The defendants appealed Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Court Division B Judge Jimmy Teat’s ruling of August, 2011, that said the defendants violated the Local Government Budget Act, and that enjoined them from making expenditures under the challenged ordinances.
Powell-Lexing’s argument centered on assertions that amendment #700 was an amendment, not a new budget as the plaintiffs assert. She argued that proper procedure was followed, with a public hearing that was advertised as prescribed by law. Powell-Lexing also argued that the law has no minimum requirements on how an amendment is to be done.
When Judge Brown asked Powell-Lexing if the trial judge had found that the amendment really constituted a new budget, she continued her assertion that it was an amendment.
Judge Lolley asked about the town’s finances being taken over by the state, at which point Powell-Lexing told him about the appointment of a fiscal administrator, and her expectations that the ruling making the appointment would also be appealed.
Culpepper rebutted that “wholesale changes” to the budget constituted a completely new budget, that the document was so styled, and that no hearings or advertisements had been done as the law required.
Readers will recall that during the 3/8/11 meeting of the town council, the budget was amended again after the public hearing that had just been held, and that some of the aldermen had not been informed of those changes.
Scott’s arguments paralleled those of Powell-Lexing, but he did have to admit that many budget changes were made, when asked by Judge Stewart if “tremendous changes” were indeed proposed.
Scott also argued that the plaintiff’s motive was to create chaos with the towns finances, rather than to see that the law was followed.
A decision is expected within six weeks.