SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - There's a new Mardi Gras addition on the North Shore but some taxpayers are not happy to hear what it cost them.
A new Mardi Gras stand now sits on Gause Boulevard in Slidell. It seats about 100 people and came with a $90,000 price tag on the taxpayer's dime.
"I think that's way too much to spend on the taxpayer's money and as a taxpayer I surely will be aware when they ask for an increased income tax, increase taxes, or increase millage for property owners because I'm sorry this is once a year, it's just a waste," said Slidell resident, Jim Johnson.
But, Mayor Freddy Drennan, doesn't see it that way. When we asked if he thought it was a good use of taxpayer money he said, "sure, a good long term use, the cost, it's done now, will be there for 20 years, so, you break that out over 20 years,30 years, you know, what does it cost per year, it's a long term fix," said Drennan.
The city's Mardi Gras stand used to sit on private property on Front Street. When a business bought that property, the mayor said the stand needed to be moved. So, he carved out $65,000 in the budget. But, when the bids came in, the administration learned they would need $25,000 more to get the job done, totaling $90,000 to move the stand and put it up on Gause Boulevard. The council approved the move, but council member, Bill Borchert, was one of two council members who voted no, "the reality is that $90,000 is a lot of money for that reviewing stand, I was just more opposed to it being moved out of Olde Towne, out of the heart of Slidell," said Borchert.
The new stand went up last week, it now sits on city property, something the mayor says is a good investment, "it's a quality of life issue that we spend money on each year to bring quality of life things to our citizens here in this city and as long as I am mayor we are going to continue to do that," said Drennan.
But, taxpayers we talked to say their money could have been put to better use, "I don't think that's right to put $90,000 into such a project like that it's not helping the citizens in anyway," said Slidell resident George Parker.
Slidell council member Val Vanney Jr. says the average citizen or taxpayer can't even use it without a pass. He was against the stand from the beginning, calling it a waste of taxpayer money and just for the elite. Each week during carnival season he says council members and the mayor are given passes to use the stand,Vanney says he's never used those passes and he never will.