St. James budget introduced this week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

CONVENT – St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel presented a condensed version of the 2014 budget and budget message during the parish council’s regular meeting on Wednesday, much to the delight of attendees.
The 2014 annual budget is estimated at $62,098,800. Roussel also presented a handful of highlights: an approximate $10 million increase in revenues is expected for the coming year, but expenditures are also expected to increase by 21.9 percent. The parish unemployment rate, at 9.8 percent, is currently higher than the state rate.
In regard to capital project funds, the budget report included plans to complete the construction of the remaining two drainage mitigation projects for Magnolia Heights subdivision and flood protection berm in South Vacherie in the coming year. Other projects for 2014 include: the construction of a waterline under the Mississippi River, District IV Community Center and evacuation streets in District V and VI; the construction of the 12,000-square-foot District V multipurpose center; street improvement and asphalt overlay for District V; and engineering and design of sewer lines in District III.
Roussel also encouraged residents to log on to the parish website and read through the compiled list of 2013 parish accomplishments, since it contained much “good stuff.”
In other items of interest, large numbers of Paulina residents attended the meeting to announce a protest of the upcoming construction of the Wolverine Terminals facility. The protest was spearheaded by resident David Lambert, who said their efforts had already collected at least 500 signatures. Lambert and two other residents, Debra Laiche and Charlotte Metge, addressed the council emphatically with prepared speeches that raised several interesting points concerning the safety of building such a facility so close to a residential area and the background of Wolverine Terminals General Manager Terry Wilson.
Wolverine Termindals revealed that it would begin building a $30 million crude oil terminal and blending operation in the fourth quarter of 2014. The St. James Parish Council passed a resolution approving Wolverine Terminals LLC to participate in the benefits of the Louisiana Enterprise/Quality Jobs Program in May.
Wilson co-hosted a public meeting with representatives of Canadian National Railroad last month regarding the project, but he drew the ire of residents after presenting rather ambiguous plans.
Residents also raised concerns about Wolverine’s assurances that they would to hire locally, possible chemical exposures, noise pollution, drainage solutions and how their property values would be affected by the new terminal.