Council reviews handshake deals

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / April 18, 2000

HAHNVILLE – Fallout from the Chris Tregre administration continued to take up time in the St. Charles Parish Council’s meeting, as “handshake”contracts and change orders split votes.

Two contracts, each of which were originally signed with former public works director Richard Wright, were approved to complete their work over the objections of Parish Councilman Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux.

The first, a contract for materials testing by Citywide Testing and Inspections Inc., was first approved by Wright in April 1999, despite the factthat the expenditure was not approved by the Parish Council and exceeded the $20,000 cap on such expenditures.

The company has invoiced the parish $52,995.39 to date for inspections onvarious drainage projects. The council approved completion of their work, notto exceed $100,000 for the remainder, with an 8-1 vote.

Faucheux said anything over $20,000 should have gone to the parish’s Quality Based Services panel for prior review and council approval.

Council member Dee Abadie argued the contract called for the contract “owner,” that is, the parish, to have the right to select a testing lab and this may not have needed prior approval.

“I can’t support this,” Faucheux commented.

A similar contract with Eustis Engineering for materials testing for the Destrehan and Hahnville regional sewage treatment plant construction was likewise a “handshake” contract approved in October 1997. The parish hasalready been invoiced $149,412.67. Approval of this ordinance will allowEustis to finish its work, not to exceed $120,000.

In other matters, a change order allowing for 127 more calendar days on the Cousins Canal pump station addition was removed from consideration, despite the fact that the contractor, Bartlett Construction, has threatened to sue for the time, according to Mike Hattaway of Krebs-LaSalle-LeMieux Engineering, the engineers for the project. Approval by the parish wouldmean giving up $24,000 in liquidated damages which otherwise would have had to been paid to the parish.

Greg Bush, with Shred-Kuyrkendall Engineering, the firm reviewing all the public works projects from the Tregre administration, said record-keeping on the project was sketchy and added, “It’s like a jigsaw puzzle where we have half the pieces.”Council member April Black said she wants more research done on the project to determine the validity of the claim.

Council chairman Terry Authement added, “If they had a problem, they should’ve come to us before.”The matter was removed from consideration pending further research by a 6-2 vote, with Lance Marino and Barry Minnich voting no and G. “Ram”Ramchandran absent from that portion of the meeting.

“Somewhere, a line has to be drawn,” Faucheux commented.

A change order for the 1999 road maintenance program to decrease the contract amount by $67,085.06 and to increase the contract time by 21days was approved.

In another matter, a zoning request by Paul Hogan to rezone a segment of his property along Autin Lane for a storage facility was removed from consideration after several Autin Lane residents objected.

“We already have a problem with speeders, loud music, oversize trucks and drug dealers,” Patsy Madere commented.

Hogan responded that isn’t his responsibility, but the responsibility of the sheriff’s office.

Council member Desmond Hilaire said, “If the residents feel they’re losing their community, I can’t support this.”Authement suggested the residents and Hogan sit down together and attempt some sort of compromise before a final determination is made by the council on the rezoning request.

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