PPC debates how to spend remaining fundsAug 3rd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Last week’s Plaquemines Parish Council meeting saw appropriations for a variety of items, including a Council Attorney and the Fort Jackson Museum Project. Debate also continued over this year’s appropriations to the NFIP fund.
Jeremy Dwyer, of the firm Dwyer Cambre & Suffern, was appointed as the Council’s attorney. Chairman Stuart Guey stressed the point brought up in the previous debates and made by attorney general opinions: the Charter does not technically authorize the Council to retain an attorney.
“We are not authorized to hire a Council attorney, that doesn’t mean we have not done it in the past,” Guey said. “We are authorized to hire ‘Special Counsel.’”
Special Counsel is an attorney, which can be retained by the Parish Council on an as need basis, when there would be a possible conflict by using Parish Attorneys.
“We’ve got several issues pending that do require Special Counsel,” Guey said.
The agreement stipulated that Dwyer could make up to $200,000 for his services to the Parish. The agreement was approved 7-1, with Guey as the only no vote, and Councilman Griffin not present for the vote.
The Council appropriated $1 million in funding for the Fort Jackson Museum Project by a vote of 9-0, after adding additional language to the ordinance. The added provisions ensured that final building construction decisions—namely whether additional costs should be incurred to have the building elevated—would come before the Council. The language also provided the authority for inquiring into further funding options for the $2 million in building costs to construct an elevated structure. Suggestions for funding included the Louisiana Recovery Authority. More updates will be presented at future meetings.
Coastal Zone Management
A cooperative endeavor agreement with the State Department of Natural Resources was approved 8-0, which will provide $30,000 for coastal zone management. An additional item, passed in conjunction with the agreement will provide an estimated $1.5 million for dredging in the Empire Canal, related to the Empire Waterway Project. That item passed 9-0.
Chairman Guey chose to defer an ordinance appropriating funds aside for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) because of continuing discussion over how to use the remaining fund balance for the year. Councilman Marinovich stressed that the excess money the Parish has received from increased revenue from sales tax following the economic traffic—largely after the oil spill—should be spent on Parish projects still awaiting funding. The Parish has to put aside $10 million over the next two years to comply with the NFIP regulations.
The Council approved the purchase of two public comment signs. The signs would be for Parish-wide use to quickly convey emergency updates, such as Ferry closings, and prevent residents from venturing to the Point-a-la-Hache Ferry only to find out it’s not operating.
Parish President Billy Nungesser reported to the Council that several construction projects, including the Oakville stop-gate, had been delayed due to the river levels, and will be underway, but not ready for the majority of hurricane season, as previously stated.
Lake Hermitage Road
The residents on Lake Hermitage Road, awaiting the permanent raised and paved road, were told by Nungesser that a breakdown of the equipment had prevented reasonable access on the road. The Parish is renting equipment to ensure safe travel, especially for emergency vehicles that would not have access to residents unless the road was maintained.