Even though he sat on the city council for years, Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor had to wait for the results of an audit to find out just how bad the city's financial situation was.
But with that information, and the work of his department heads, he's cut a $1.9 million deficit and produced a budget with a modest surplus.
"There was some spending that should not have been done, and it unfortunately was unknown to the council," Alsandor said. "We always asked, but the answer was never given to us with clarity."
What Alsandor's staff did was to look at spending in prior years, and compare those figures with the spending in the current budget, he said. Then they were able to see where the spending should be, and adjust the budget accordingly.
"If it didn't equate to what was forecast in the budget, we cut expenditures," he said. "We're still providing the needed services to the peope of Opelousas, but we cut back on some of that overspending."
Once they were done, there was a surplus, or fund balance, of $52,000.
"This allows us to have a small surplus to use in case of emergency," he said. "You can't spend more than what you have. If you do, that will put you in the negative - where we were. Once we had amended the budget and prepared our new budget, we had a surplus in there. The surplus is not much, but it gave us a positive side for us to build upon as we go forward. By no means am I saying we're out of the woods. We have to be diligent, in all our departments. We have to be very cognizant of what we do as we move forward."