Parish authorizes bond election with conditions

Members of the St. Mary Parish Council passed a resolution Wednesday allowing the call of a $3 million bond election on Nov. 16 by Water and Sewer District 4 in western St. Mary but added a stipulation that the district must get council approval prior to the issuance of any of the bond series.

The resolution states the bond proceeds would be used “for the purpose of paying the cost of constructing, equipping and acquiring extensions and improvements,” to both the water and sewer treatment plants, in one or more series.

Trevor Haynes of the Foley & Judell firm of bond attorneys told the council that the funds acquired would be repaid with proceeds from the district’s current 11.04 mill property tax without extending past its 2028 maturity date.

As much as $750,000 would make up the district’s 15 percent share of the parish’s project to extend sewer service to the St. Peter Street and Websterville areas, Haynes said, a project in the works for almost 20 years.

He added that the proceeds would fund the extension of a waterline along La. 318 estimated at about $170,000 as well as “a number of other projects.”

Councilman David Hanagriff said he had a problem with not getting the resolution soon enough to find out how all of the bond proceeds would be spent. He noted that the resolution would have to be passed Wednesday in order for the proposition to make the November election ballot.

Hanagriff said he didn’t get the resolution until Monday which was “too late to make a good sound decision.” He also said he had a problem with there being no representative from the district board present to answer the council’s questions.

Councilman Lionel “Butch” Metz said he attends the district’s meetings and knows that, “they’re doing the best they can … to take care of everything they have to do.” He noted that the remainder of the funds would be used to update the aging water and sewer plants.

Hanagriff said he agrees that the sewer project is long overdue and needs to be completed, but added, “these other issues … I need better numbers … I can’t have verbal estimates.”

“This is an area that already has 128 mills,” in ad valorem taxes, said State Sen. Bret Allain who lives in the district. “We have a hard, hard time attracting industry and jobs to these areas because of this.”

Allain said that when he asked for justification of the bonds he said he received written verbal estimates and a “wish list” of future needs.

He said he agrees with the funding for the sewer project and waterline.

“But the rest of this, the other $2.3 million is pretty much a wish list,” he said. “You deserve as a council more information about the need and what’s needed out there to make a good decision than what you’re provided here,” he said.

Haynes said if the proposition did not make the November ballot, the next election date would be April which would mean funds would not be received until the latter part of 2014.

Hanagriff then made the motion to pass the resolution with the aforementioned stipulation and it passed unanimously.

In other business the council:

—Passed resolutions approving a contract related to treatment lab improvements by Waterworks 5; a contract on waterline construction along La. 318 by Water and Sewer Commissions 4 and 5; an agreement with Berry Brothers General Contractors on the Atchafalaya wharf replacement in Berwick; an agreement with Coogan and Coogan Inc. on an electronic sign project at Kemper Williams Park; and various agreements on the seaway rehab project at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport in Patterson.

—Referred to finance committee a funding request from Community Action Agency seeking its annual allocation in the amounts of $45,500 for operations and $24,000 for the elderly feeding program.

—Approved a request from Councilman Charles Middleton to transfer $2,000 from the Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10 three-tenths sales tax fund to the City of Franklin for expenses related to a trail ride.

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