Councilmen Dale Rogers and J Ina

Fair share: Road funds distribution method debated

How $10 million in bonds will be distributed across St. Mary Parish will be debated in a special meeting of the parish council in May.
The bonds, approved at an earlier meeting, are intended to rehabilitate roads in the parish and municipalities.
Councilman J Ina said he was concerned about the distribution formula. “The parish, or we, are going to have to decide how we’re going to allocate the remaining portion” after the municipalities get their share.
A road study had been instituted and that report was provided to the parish earlier.
Councilman Dale Rogers agreed a special meeting should be held to determine allocation ratios.
“We have to make that decision, and in my opinion that decision should be done rather quickly,” he said. “Each district member needs to know what their allocation will be.”
He said he has estimates of all the roads he would like rehabbed in his district. “When that money hits the bank I want to be ready to start spending it,” Rogers said.
Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange said he expects the funds to be available around the first of June.
Ina said he would like to hear input from the council regarding road priorities.
LaGrange added that usage and location of residents and businesses may supersede one road over another in spite of their condition.
“My intention was to present to you some approvals…to get some projects started,” he said.
“Are you suggesting that the administration is going to decide which roads will be fixed?” Rogers asked.
LaGrange said the administration can only recommend roads to the parish council for approval.
“We spent a lot of money to get a study done, we should at least look at the roads and see what needs to be done,” Ina said. “I just want to contribute my thoughts, I want to be proactive.”
Councilman Patrick Hebert said he’d like to see each councilman make a top road priorities list, and he intends to “ride those roads” to see them for himself.
Rogers said he agrees with Hebert, but that the study created a list of roads in need of work. “I may have 20 roads in my district you may have two in your district,” he said. “How are we going to allocate the money? That’s what this discussion needs to be, based on the study we paid for.”
Councilman James Bennett said despite the study he also wanted to see the roads himself “so that I know what I’m talking about.”
A May 8 meeting at 5 p.m. was set to discuss the details of the road plan.
Also Wednesday, Rogers asked about progress on the Yokely Canal widening project. LaGrange said the attorney working on the rights-of-way passed away and has been replaced, and that attorney is getting caught up on the project thus far.
In other business:
—Councilman Craig Mathews said casting for the play “Chosen Men,” written, produced and directed by Karen Matthews, playwright will be Sunday, April 15 at 4 p.m. at the West St Mary Civic Center.
—Chief Deputy Coroner Lianter W. Albert M.D. was named interim St. Mary Parish Coroner due to the retirement of incumbent Dr. F.H. “Chip” Metz Jr.
—Keith A. Lewis was appointed to the parish zoning board of adjustments.

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