St. Charles Council Oks trash collection rate hike

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 6, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 6, 1998

HAHNVILLE – A new rate increase for trash collection was approved Monday by the St. Charles Parish Council, which means a 29-cent monthlyrate hike from $8.88 to $9.17 per month.The increase passed by an 8-1 vote and picked up the reluctant support of council chairman “Ram” Ramchandran, who said he voted against the last increase “because there was no sincere effort in cutting (administrative) costs and promoting recycling.”The matter was approved after brief discussion of possibly cutting back to one pickup day per week to cut costs. Voting against the increase wasParish Councilman Brian Champagne.

The Parish Council also tabled discussion on changing the makeup of the Quality-Based Selection panel and changing the procedure for selection of professional firms for parish projects. This called for a mandate that theParish Council select the firm for negotiations by the administration from the three top-ranked firms.

Audience members Chuck Thornton and Steve Wilson of Destrehan and Stanford Caillouet of New Sarpy all called upon the Parish Council not to change the panel.

“You’re putting politics in instead of keeping them out,” Wilson said, adding such a move as adding two engineers appointed by Parish Council members to the panel would be a turn toward the old police jury form of government.

That form of government was discredited in St. Charles Parish due to theextortion scandals of the 1970s which sent some local police jurors to federal prison.

One of the proposals also called for the administration representative to be a non-voting member. That was altered to a voting member byamendment.

The current membership is made up of four representatives from area universities and an administrative representative. The panel advises onselection of engineering contracts, with final decisions by the Parish Council.

However, as amendments and proposals flew and confused some councilmen, Parish Councilman Barry Minnich moved to table the matter to clean up the proposal and bring it back later. That was approved 5-4, withopposition from Bill Sirmon, Brian Champagne, Curtis Johnson and Ellis Alexander.

The Parish Council also nearly derailed final approval of the legislative liaison proposed by the River Region Caucus.

Approval of the liaison, handled administratively in the other parishes without council votes, was brought to the St. Charles Parish Council byTregre as a courtesy gesture.

However, Johnson complained he had not seen Sarah Whalen’s resume and questioned what her job duties would be.

Alexander attempted to table discussion, but this was voted down at the urging of Tregre, who pointed out the legislative session had already begun and she was already on the job. Tregre stressed, though, if theParish Council did not approve her contract he would not feel comfortable paying the parish’s $5,000 share of her $15,000 contract.

Whalen, of Baton Rouge, will monitor and advise the River Parishes governments as to pending legislation affecting the region and act as a parish representative when asked to present information on behalf of the governments.

Finally, the Parish Council voted 7-1 to approve the contract, with Johnson voting against the matter and Barry Minnich absent from the chamber.

At the next meeting on May 20 the Parish Council will discuss the possibility of scheduling meetings to begin at 6 p.m. instead of the current7 p.m., in an effort to finish business earlier.In other matters, the Parish Council: * Approved a contract change order on the Bayou Gauche sewerage project, reducing it by $109,000.

* Proclaimed May as “Older Americans Month.”* Proclaimed May 12 as “HOSTS Day,” honoring mentoring volunteers.

* Approved the act of dedication for New Prospect Avenue near TransAmerican Refining Co. in Norco, opened by the state highwaydepartment to public traffic yesterday morning.

* Heard a report from Sam Zinna of the St. Charles CommunicationsDistrict, which handled 48,000 emergency calls during 1997, 86.9 percentto the sheriff’s office, 10.4 percent by medical services and 2.7 percentby fire departments.

Operator Denise Francis was also recognized as Deputy of the Year for her prompt actions in providing deputies with vital information leading to the arrest of an armed robbery suspect.

Zinna also announced a second backup system has been developed for the 9-1-1 system. Primary backup will be provided by the EmergencyOperations Center. The secondary backup system will be at the Luling VFDheadquarters.

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Sunset Drainage District to provide for an $18,000 operating subsidy to the district for the operation and maintenance of the drainage system.

* Approved the bid advertisement for its annual official journal selection, set for June 1.

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