Council makes coastal endurance a priority

Published 1:00 am Saturday, November 16, 2019

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish has agreed to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Parishes Advocating for Coastal Endurance, Inc. (PACE) for the support of research, outreach and education affecting the natural resources of the 20 parishes that make up PACE.

The Parish Council during its Nov. 12 meeting approved a draft in creating the CEA, which is the first step in creating an organization of the 20 coastal parishes. Parish President Natalie Robottom told council members the CEA commits the parish to annual commitment of $5,000 to support PACE operations and to educate and propose erosion solutions at both the state and federal levels.

However, Robottom was quick to point out that all 20 parishes must agree or the organization will not be launched.
“PACE is dependent upon commitments to fund the organization by all member parishes,” she said, adding that the allocation of funds from all 20 parishes will be sufficient to hire someone to oversee PACE and its mission.

One of the organization’s purposes, Robottom said, is to track legislation to ensure money allotment for protection of natural resources is not diverted to sources it was not intended for.

“It’s not a full-fledged organization but we know we need it,” Robottom said.

Councilman Larry Snyder said the parish needs to be involved and that once the other parishes commit, “We will be in better shape.”

In other developments, the council authorized the administration to enter into a CEA with South Central Planning & Development to conduct a parish-wide water meter reconciliation study. Chief Financial Officer Robert Figuero said the hope is South Central Planning will be able to obtain from Entergy a date base of its accounts, which will then be compared to the parish’s list of water customers.

Figuero said the study will be beneficial to both parties, as once the records are compared, violators who are currently getting free water or free electricity illegally will be identified and forced to make the necessary hookups. He said such an agreement could help create additional revenue for both the parish and Entergy.

The cost of the project is $35,000 to the parish, but Figuero emphasized that if Entergy is unwilling to agree from its end, it will be scrapped and the parish will be off the hook from its financial obligation, except for services that had been rendered by South Central Planning.

Robottom said finding violators is a “certainty in St. John Parish.”

In another matter, assistant district attorney Keith Green reported the DA’s office has adjudicated 36 properties in the past three years, with a total sales price of $342,657.86. Of that amount, $136,308.96 is scheduled to flow in parish coffers.

“I think that’s pretty good,” Green said, adding that the DA’s office has about another 15 properties “in the pipeline.”

Story by Richard Meek, who is a contributing writer for L’Observateur.