Council extends grass cutting, janitorial contracts for two years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010



LAPLACE – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council on Tuesday voted to extend terms of existing contracts for grass cutting and janitorial services in the parish for another two years, superseding a one-year extension proposed by Parish President Natalie Robottom.

The extension, which was proposed by Division A Councilman-at-Large Dale Wolfe, was approved by the council just minutes after they approved the one-year contract extensions in a finance committee meeting. The council voted 4-3 in favor of the two-year extension, with Council members Cheryl Millet, Darnel Usry and Danny Millet casting votes against.

Councilman Ronnie Smith was absent from the meeting and Councilman Steve Lee chose to abstain. Council members Haston Lewis, Charles Julien and Jaclyn Hotard voted with Wolfe in favor of the two-year proposal.

Wolfe said at the meeting that the contracts in question have been held by the same contractors for a number of years and that many of them have spent exorbitant amounts of money to improve and replace equipment. He said that a one-year extension would not be long enough to ensure that they are able to pay off their new equipment.

“We need to take care of the people that take care of us,” Wolfe said.

Robottom had originally opted to extend the contracts by six months, but offered the one-year extension as a compromise to the council. The contracts originally expired in January, but the administration has kept them on a month-to-month basis.

At a May 11 meeting, Robottom’s first as parish president, the council voted to extend the contracts for three years with no discussion and no mention of any contractor names. Robottom vetoed that measure because she was given no prior notice of the proposal. Following the veto, Robottom opted for the one-year extension.

“It was on the finance committee agenda and it was voted on and approved with no discussion,” Robottom said. “I want to be clear that this is not about the quality of work being done, this is about the way the contract extensions were proposed. I’m trying to be fair to the public.

In other action from Tuesday, the council voted to extend an agreement with the River Parishes Transit Authority for another two-years of funding. The parish pays the public transit system $125,000 a year to operate four buses throughout the parish. The council also approved an ordinance to move the polling location for precincts 4-8, 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 7-5 and 7-7 from LaPlace Elementary to Ascension of Our Lord Church. The administration said the polling location needed to be moved because of construction at LaPlace Elementary.