St. John Parish hires help for processing grants

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 25, 2014


Contributing Writer

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish officials are hoping to close out existing and old utility grants with the goal of becoming eligible for additional funding, Parish President Natalie Robottom said.

On Tuesday night the Parish Council voted to enter into an agreement with Digital Engineering and Imaging Inc. of Kenner for the purpose of processing many of the complex administrative duties associated with the grants. According to parish officials, the utilities department has more than $7 million in projects funded with low interest loans and different types of grants.

Robottom stressed some of the funds already paid out by the parish are reimbursable.

“Until we close out the paperwork, we can’t get reimbursed,” Robottom said. “If we have too many (active) grants at one time, we can’t (apply) for others.”

Robottom said the contract with Digital Engineering is not to exceed $50,000.

In other news, the council approved $796,402 for insurance policies covering liability, vehicles and other areas. The total reflected a 1.1 percent increase from a year ago.

And once again, Councilman Lennix Madere sparred with Robottom regarding the condition of the walls at the refurbished Homer Joseph Center in Reserve. As in several previous meetings, Madere insisted the walls, which have been repaired and painted, are not up to his satisfaction.

Robottom said the building is ready to host programs for adults and young people and that no additional work is planned. She said the building is in better condition than some of the other buildings housing parish workers.

At one point during the contentious discussion, Council Chairman Marvin Perrilloux admitted he was “ashamed to see that’s where we’re at right now” and said it has gone on long enough.

Council member Jaclyn Hotard said it appears the parties are at an impasse. Madere vowed to continue the dialogue.

Also, officials from the Recreation Department said they are confident the baseball fields will be ready by the time the season starts in early May, but what is lacking is participation. Robottom said registration is down, and only three players from the west bank have registered.

Unless registration increases, those players will have to compete on an east bank team, officials said.

Finally, the parish has entered into an agreement with school bus drivers to provide transportation during a declared emergency requiring evacuation. The drivers will be paid $750 per day plus a per diem of $39 for meals.