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Council says proceed with bond sale to DEQ

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 3, 1998

HAHNVILLE – A $24 million bond sale to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, if approved, could be a windfall to finance sewer system improvements in St. Charles Parish.Without the bond sale, floating a loan on the public market could instead cost St. Charles Parish more to complete the sewerage improvementsmandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and LDEQ.The Parish Council Monday approved a resolution to authorize a mandatory advertisement for bids, with the understanding LDEQ will be the only bidder for the general obligation bonds.

Bond attorney Jerry Osborne reported he just received an OK from LDEQ attorneys at 2:30 p.m. Monday for the Parish Council to proceed. Thedepartment will officially received the application from St. CharlesParish on June 5, and the parish will open the bid on June 15, where the LDEQ will offer a bond purchase at an annual interest rate of 3.95 percent.At the very least, the bond sale will finance the sewerage construction projects at a low rate, meaning less money out of future budgets to pay off the loan.

In a letter to Sewerage Director Richard Wright, LDEQ Secretary J. DaleGivens said his department may be able to manage loans, provided the money is made available by the Legislature in the current session into the Municipal Facilities Revolving Loan Fund.

That should be known by June 10, when the current legislative session ends, according to Osborne. If not, a public bond sale at a higher interestrate would be necessary.

Parish Councilman Brian Champagne thanked the efforts thus far of the legislative delegation, especially Rep. Joel Chaisson II and Sen. RonLandry, for their help in pushing the matter in Baton Rouge. “We owe thema great debt,” Champagne added.

Parish Councilman Dickie Duhe added his thanks to Parish President Chris Tregre for his hard work toward securing the low-cost financing.

In another matter, the Parish Council voted to move up its regular meeting time to 6 p.m. and mandated the meetings end at 10 p.m.Champagne, who authored the resolution, commented, “We ought to come early and get the business done.”Also, Director of Emergency Preparedness Tab Troxler reported predictions of a 1998 hurricane season as “a little below normal,” with nine named storms, five of those intense.

The department has issued a new booklet to the public, “Surviving the Storm,” and printed more than 20,000 copies.

Additionally, by July 1, a “reverse 9-1-1” system should be operational, where mass-phone calling can be done by the department, either to warn residents in a specific area or call out parish employees more quickly in case of an emergency.

The system can make use of 216 phone lines at once and cost approximately $7,000 to install, Troxler said.

In another matter, government critic Stanford Caillouet was expelled, not only from the Parish Council meeting, but also from the courthouse itself, for again disrupting the meeting.

During a public comment period on a $10,000 change order on a sewerage skips contract, he was ruled out of order for straying from the subject.

Caillouet called for a “citizen’s arrest” of council chairman “Ram” Ramchandran, and instead found himself removed from the building.

In other business, Sheriff Greg Champagne saw approved a new parish ordinance banning unauthorized vehicles from the East Guide Levee of the Bonnet Carre Spillway between Airline Highway and River Road.

The law addresses the problem of all-terrain vehicles throwing dust into the air and inconveniencing nearby Norco residents. “If the north wind isblowing and the dirt bikes are popping, it’s bad,” Champagne noted.

Finally, Dale Estay of Paradis called for parish assistance in establishing a public park or playground on the north side of Paradis.

He said his research found that a square block of Paradis, when first developed in 1909, was donated to the parish as a park. Instead, the bulkof the property ended up sold in a sheriff’s sale in 1928.

Parish Councilman Barry Minnich said he and Parish Councilman Terry Authement approached the Paradis Town Council civic association about the matter and were essentially told to “get lost” and forget the idea.

One portion of the property remains undeveloped, at the corner of Fonda and Audubon. Estay said children on the north side of Paradis cannotsafely reach playground areas on the south side without trying to cross U.S. Highway 90.

Photo: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS Director Tab Troxler told the St. Charles Parish Council Monday the 1998 hurricane season should be “below average” with storms. Nine named storms are anticipated, with five of those intense. (Staff Photo by Leonard Gray)

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