Parish, Council clash over EPA grant for West Bank

Published 12:11 am Saturday, April 29, 2017

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish Government’s process of evaluating Request for Proposals (RFP) and Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is again under fire.

The issue stems from a recent vote by Parish Council members to award an engineering contract of $68,745 for the West Bank WWTP’s Tank Rehabilitation Project to C&S consultants of New Orleans rather than the administration’s recommendation of Principal Engineering, which has several offices scattered throughout south Louisiana and into neighboring states.

At that meeting, Parish President Natalie Robottom claimed the Council’s decision jeopardized an EPA grant to cover the cost of the contract.

She reiterated that claim Tuesday, telling the Council if they do not want to accept the grant funds, “you are well within your right.”

“If you want the money, we must follow the process,” she added. “That is as clear as I can put it.”

She also produced a letter from Dena Hurst, listed as an EPA coordinator for this area, which states the Council’s decision to “award the engineering contract to another bidder will result in the engineering costs becoming not allowable.”

Refuting Robottom, Parish Council Chairman Larry Snyder said the parish “can still get that grant. That is easy.”

He said if the parish provides the South Central Planning and Development Commission, which is how the grant is funneled, with a reason to change what firm is awarded the contract, “we can get them to change it.”

Snyder said he favored using C&S Consultants because the firm is smaller and a Disadvantaged Enterprise.

“We can write a letter asking for the money,” Snyder said.

Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. said he and other Council members recently spoke with an EPA representative and were told the EPA “doesn’t’ really care” who receives the contract.

“They explained to us to simply give a reason why we prefer a different company and they said it should be no problem,” he added.

— By Richard Meek