Public officials participate in townhall meeting

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 13, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – Rising Star Baptist Church hosted its second monthly town hall meeting Thursday evening, and the event drew out a comprehensive gathering of St. John the Baptist Parish public figures.
Parish President Natalie Robottom, St. John councilmen Lucien J. Gauff III, Lennix Madere Jr. and Marvin Perriloux and state Rep. Gregory A. Miller were present at the event. Sheriff Mike Tregre, Division C Judge Sterling Snowdy, St. John Parish School Board member Russ Wise also attended the event. Carl Butler acted as moderator as the panel of public servants presented the community with updates related to its area of expertise and answered questions from the audience.
Robottom covered an extensive “community overview,” with topics that included the National Disaster Recovery Framework, the possible discontinuation of the Reserve-Edgard ferry, flood insurance subsidies and a new anti-littering campaign called “Littering is Wrong Too.” Miller offered information about the recent commencement of the fiscal legislative session, noting that Gov. Bobby Jindal has ceased his proposal for the income tax swap and has requested that the representatives bring him a bill to eliminate income taxes.
“If we eliminate income taxes, we will have $3 billion hole in budget. I don’t really see that that’s going to be a serious effort in the Legislature this year because the number one project is dealing with the budget,” said Miller.
He also threw in some good news concerning the growth of the Louisiana skilled labor workforce: “There’s a bill by Sen. Robert Adley to try to get some facilities built throughout the state at the community and technical college system, because we have a huge need in this state for skilled workers. We’re going to need a lot of people, and this is going to try and address that,” he said.
Miller said one building is in the works for the at the South Central Louisiana Technical College’s Reserve campus, and he is working to acquire an additional building.  
After their brief presentations, the moderator opened up the floor for questions from the public. Resident Rosetta Loren asked Robottom if there were any Community Development Block Grant funds available for housing elevation. Loren said that she lived in a neighborhood with a large amount of cul de sacs, and when it began flooding in the area, there was only one exit for everyone.
In response, Robottom said the parish had received $1.9 million dollars for Hurricane Gustav and Issac recovery efforts that were leftover specifically for housing elevation, but the money was specific to repeptive loss properties only. She said the parish was anticipating getting another $60 million in hazard mitigation funding that would go toward residents doing repair and elevation, and an additional $66 million in federal funding was recently approved for most damaged parishes. Robottom went on to say that while the parish could not go in and open up a cul de sac per se, officials were currently working on several methods to solve drainage problems around the parish, such as cleaning culverts and ditches and offering assessments for residents who may need to replace their culverts.