Jones gets $250K for city hall rehab, more road overlay
State Rep. Sam Jones (Dist. 50) secured $250,000 for improvements to Franklin City Hall in the last legislative session.
That’s $50,000 more than he pledged, he told the city council Tuesday.
“You said if I could go get $200,000 that would help put the package together for the renovation,” Jones said. “I did 12 percent better than that.”
City hall is suffering water intrusion on a massive scale, and other needs to make safety code.
Mayor Raymond Harris said the city has bonded $750,000 for repairs and renovations, making a total of $1 million.
“I think it’s the best thing to do, the right thing to do,” Jones said. “We see so many places where the downtowns get lost. Being here in central-city and having a building that’s stood the test of time for over a hundred years, you know it’s going to be here.”
Jones said he was also able to secure $35,000 in façade funds for historic properties.
“I think the way we’ve always looked at this is once you created the historic district and have the commission and regulate the facades of people’s buildings, there’s a public interest there,” he said. “If you’re going to have that public interest there ought to be those times when you put some of your own skin in the game. I think we’ve done the façade program four or five times.”
Those funds will be dispersed to the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau and then to the city.
Jones encouraged the mayor and council to quickly form a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state “just in case we have budget shortfalls, we wouldn’t want to see these funds swept.”
He said $50,000 has also been allocated to the state Lake Fausse Point Restoration committee he created. “We’ve done an initial study and now we want to do some better planning,” he said.
He said a 170 percent increase in rates for wind and hail coverage in St. Mary Parish by Citizens Insurance Program happened after the session began.
Jones tacked on an amendment to another bill requiring Citizens to spread any increase across “a number of years.”
The amendment was stripped off in the Senate, Jones said, by Sen. Dan Morris, of Jennings, author of the bill. Morris said he would insert other language into the bill.
The amendment passed reinstates a 10 percent savings.
“On top of that, we believe Citizens used an illegal method to come up with these rate increases,” Jones said. “It can be done in two ways: 10 percent over the market, or 10 percent over the actuarial value of the market. Since there was no market, they went out and extrapolated what they thought it would be if there was a market. That was a phantom calculation, which is not authorized in any bill we can find.”
An opinion will be sought from the Louisiana Attorney General to declare the rate increase onboard, and a re-examination of Citizens will be made in the fall.
Jones reported that the overlay of La. 87 from Willow Street to Centerville has been completed, and that La. 87 from Adeline to Charenton will be overlayed this year.
“There is a chance…to overlay more of the rural roads that don’t get federal assistance,” he said. “There’s a chance that La. 87 may get overlaid all the way to Oaklawn.
“I’m going to try to get all our roads overlaid,” he said.
Jones also described how he fought to preserve that state retirement system and keeping the state elderly affairs office in the governor’s office rather than transferring it to the Department of Health and Hospitals.