Pleasure Bend water treatment work moves ahead despite debate over legal opinions

Published 12:19 am Saturday, February 16, 2019

LAPLACE — Pleasure Bend’s water treatment facility entered the political fray of local government when Reed Alexander, acting public utilities director, asked St. John the Baptist Council members to amend the professional services agreement with Environmental Engineering Services of LaPlace.

The firm is overseeing the project, and an amendment was being sought to increase the contract by 220 days, which increases the time a company representative must be on site.

The amendment called for an amount not to exceed $35,182.74.

Alexander told Council members this week the initial fee for basic services is based on the estimated construction cost, which turned out to be underestimated, and did not reflect the additional oversight required for the changes.

Administration submitted the request to the D.A.’s office for review, but in its legal report submitted to the Council before every meeting, the D.A.’s office responded that it did not receive the request in a timely manner and thus could not offer what would amount to an informed legal opinion.

Timing of when the administration submits contracts to the D.A.’s office for approval during an upcoming Council meeting has been a thorny issue among the two branches, with the D.A.’s office frequently requesting the Administration to be more timely in its submissions.

Based on a lack of a legal opinion, Councilman Thomas Malik initially motioned to table the matter, which brought a strong disagreement from Parish President Natalie Robottom.

A lengthy discussion ensued, and at one point, Robottom said “in two weeks (at the next meeting) you will approve the exact same thing you are being asked to approve today. Why can’t we move forward?”

During the discussion, Environmental Engineering president Oscar Boudreaux said that his firm is “doing all of the work for nothing. I’m in the hole.”

“You table (the amendment, and) I am paying out of my own pocket. It is financially hurting me. I’m not a bank.”

Robottom said her staff does not intentionally delay sending the reports to the D.A. but such cases pop up when “you run a government.”

“(This project) required more than we thought,” she added. “This will continue to happen.”

Malik’s table motion failed, which was followed by a motion to approve the amendment that passed 5-1.

Those in favor were Larry Sorapuru Jr., Kurt Becnel, Julia Remondet, Lennix Madere Jr. and Marvin Perrilloux.

Malik voted against the amendment, and Larry Snyder abstained.

Jaclyn Hotard and Michael Wright were not present.

— By Richard Meek