St. John Council pushes upgrades

Published 11:45 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

By Monique Roth

EDGARD — The St. John the Baptist Parish Council approved an ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting authorizing the incurring of debt and issuance of $18 million of general obligation bonds.

Nearly 72 percent of St. John Parish voters supported the Nov. 16 vote deciding on whether the parish would be allowed issuance of $30 million in bonds to fund various infrastructure and other projects in the parish.

Based on the strength of the parish’s financial and operational management and a successful presentation to Standard and Poor’s Rating Services, the parish’s bond rating was upgraded from A+ to AA-. The rating improvement allowed for more favorable interest rates for the sale of the first round of bonds from the $30 million bond issue. The net fixed interest rate for the 20-year issue bonds is under 3.2 percent. Closing on the $18 million in bonds is set for June 10. The remaining $12 million in bonds will be issued at another time.

Last year, St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom and her staff earmarked the $30 million for different areas of need, including $13 for drainage, canals, pumps and levees; $5 million for water systems; $3 million for roads and bridges; and $3 million for parks and recreation.

The administration also put together a list of possible projects based on input from parish officials, residents and businesses. The list at this point is not conclusive, and ultimately the Parish Council will have to decide which projects get funded, but some of the items penciled in include expansion of the east bank government complex, funding for a pump station at Vicknair Canal and the West Shore Levee in the Pleasure Bend area and repairs to Woodland and Fairway bridges.