Patterson improving water plant

PATTERSON, La. -- The city of Patterson has much to reflect on as it marks the close of 2012.

Much-needed water plant construction is slated to begin in 2013. This comes after financial wrangling throughout 2012 to pay for replacement of the aging structure currently in place.

A measure to incur $4.6 million in debt through bond issuances for the replacement of the city’s water works happened over the summer, following closely on the heels of bond issuance of $5 million, bringing the total city investment in the infrastructure to $9.6 million.

City Engineer Clay Breaud said the two combined bond issuances will cover the entire replacement of the water plant, including a new clarifier, intake structure and filter system.

The city was authorized to take out $5 million in general obligation bonds through a special ad valorem tax. Unfortunately, there was a limitation on how much they could borrow, so they had to do other secure revenues for the water system. That is what the $4.6 million is for. Local banks are handling the bond issuances. M C Bank & Trust Co. will purchase the bonds and Patterson State Bank will be the paying agent on the bond issuance.

The loans will be paid for by increases in water rates and will help the city make bond payments for the financing of the proposed new water plant. Residents saw the first increases in their bills in June.

Among the notable deaths in the City of Patterson in 2012 were Councilwoman Claire Sawyer, former mayor and councilman C.A. “Gus” Lipari and city recreation liaison Carl Butler. Charles Sawyer, currently serving as the interim councilman, went unopposed in the November election. He will be filling the unexpired term of his late wife.

At the end of its fiscal year, the Patterson City Council met in special session to amend its fiscal year 2012 budget by nearly $1 million in overspending. The bulk of that money was related to mold remediation and creation of the police department training center, according to City Clerk Pam Washington.

While the city was budgeted to finish the year $450,924 in the black, it finished $524,929 in the red for a total of $975,853 off budget.

The city’s insurance plan was scheduled to reimburse for costs of mold remediation, rental of the building used as a temporary city hall or rebuilding of the portions of city hall that had to be removed but did not. This totaled about $300,000.

Other notable events in Patterson in 2012 included:

—The creation of the Wheelbarrow Farmers’ Market at 1103 First St., where the 12 or 13 stalls measuring 10 feet by 12 feet sell vegetables. Dr. Edward James Valeau, a Patterson native and California resident, utilized the family property — including electrical outlets, water hookups and cover in June. From there, sales of fruits, vegetables and plants can be made, but wild game cannot be sold. Those selling produce are tax exempt; however, sales of seafood are not.

Further, a community garden is slated to be set up next door to the Jessie Hayes Boat Landing. It will take about one year to get the land completely ready for planting, but once it is, city leaders envision sections dedicated to groups within the community such as the housing authority, elderly and school children. The 1.8 acre of land is shared with the parish council for the boat landing.

The garden will feature a composting area and green earth initiatives such as battery or solar methods for moving water from the bayou to the garden for watering crops, Mayor Rodney Grogan said.

Also, a section of the property is named “Claire’s Garden” in honor of the late Councilman Claire Sawyer. The food raised in the community garden will be eligible to be sold at the farmers’ market.

—Completed Catherine Street sidewalks.

—David Plummer of Retail Specialists Inc. presented his findings to entice more retailers to come to Patterson, enhance the vitality of the community and increase the city’s tax base to the Patterson City Council at its monthly meeting in November.

—In an attempt to maintain Patterson’s fire rating, the council agreed to assist in the purchase of a pumper truck for the Patterson Volunteer Fire Department. Currently, the city has a National Fire Protection Agency fire rating of 4, with 1 being the best possible rating and 10, the worst.

Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon told homeowners in March they could expect significant rate reductions in their fire insurance premiums effective April 9.

—Patterson leaders in August accepted a donation of land from a former NFL player for use as a spray park. Isaac J. “Ike” Hilliard, a Patterson native, donated land next to the Dollar General on Catherine Street that is 190 feet across the front and 310 feet deep with the caveats that it be used for a recreational purpose and that it be named the Isaac J. Hilliard Park. Grogan did not give a timeframe for the start of construction. Hilliard currently works as the wide receivers coach for the Washington Redskins.

—The City of Patterson was offered $35,000 from the State of Louisiana to look into becoming a Main Street community.

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