St. John Parish considering raising culvert fee

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 26, 2013



LAPLACE – Commer cial businesses in St. John the Baptist Parish may soon be paying more for installations of culverts.

Parish President Natalie Robottom on Monday asked the council to consider raising the installation fee, which is currently $25 for residential and commercial property owners.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s 50 feet or 500 feet of culvert,” Robottom said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 12-inch, 16-inch or 72-inch (culverts). It’s $25. And our drainage crew is responsible for installation. That’s the law.”

She cited a recent example where parish workers spent more than a week installing 72-inch culverts for a business enterprise. Robottom said workers and equipment were removed from working on draining ditches, which is so critical as hurricane season nears.

“Those are the kind of things that take us away from what we’re supposed to be doing,” Robottom said. “So they are pulled off from what they are supposed to be doing for $25. And I can assure you it costs more than $25 to get our equipment to the site.”

Councilman Lennix Madere said he believes the residential fee should not be changed but the commercial fee is too low.

“We definitely have to go up on that,” he said.

Council Chairman Jaclyn Hotard said the original fee was set in 1982 and needs to be re-examined.

In other drainage news, Public Works Director Brian Nunes, in response to a question from Councilman Cheryl Millet, said crews have been assessing culverts that suffered the most significant impact during Hurricane Isaac. He said crews have been taking still pictures as well as videoing the damage for documentation and have begun the paperwork to submit to FEMA.

He said a private contractor will be hired to clean out those culverts once, and the work should be completed in time for the hurricane season. Officials expect the expense to be covered by FEMA.

Millet said she is anxious for the work to begin as soon as possible.

“I know it’s reimbursable monies by FEMA, but tell that to somebody who just moved into their house, and it gets wet again because we didn’t clean out the culverts,” Millet said.

Also Monday night, a representative of the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Corpora tion presented two dividend checks to parish officials.

A check of $75,271 was presented to the Office of Fire Safety and another check for $143,683 was presented to the parish.

The checks were dividends earned during 2012.

The parish has re  ceived $476,527 in dividends in the past 10 years.

LWCC recently de  clared a dividend of $48.7 million.