Parish Council votes to dissolve finance committee

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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LAPLACE —The St. John Parish Council voted to dissolve the finance committee effective Jan. 1. The committee is comprised of all of the council members and typically meets at 6 p.m., 30 minutes before the start of the regular meeting.
Councilman Michael Wright, who offered the resolution, said the semantics of the committee meeting could be considered confusing to the public.
He cited Tuesday’s meeting as an example. The finance committee convened at 6 p.m. and adjourned four minutes later, leaving a gap of nearly 30 minutes before the start of the regular meeting.
He also mentioned how cumbersome it is when the finance committee business takes longer than expected and carries on past 6:30 p.m.
Wright suggested finance items be placed on the regular agenda under “New Business.”
“This is a good method of streamlining the process,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”
Hotard applauded the resolution and said it has been something discussed for a long time. She added the council has the ability to change the start time for the regular meeting.
In other news, an original estimate of St. John the Baptist Parish issuing $70 million in bonds to pay for the cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida while awaiting FEMA reimbursement has been dramatically reduced, according to the Parish Council.
Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said during the recent Parish Council meeting that a number of factors, including insurance, has dropped that number to $30 million.
“We were able to push through (some) big ticket items,” she said. “Things are moving quicker than we thought.”
Chief Financial Officer Robert Figuero said the funds from the bonds will allow the parish to pay the vendors who have been assisting in recovery.
Hotard said FEMA will reimburse 100% of the recovery costs incurred during the first 45 days and 90 cents on the dollar for the next six-month period, which is higher than the typical 75% cents because of the extensive damage.
Last week’s Parish Council meeting also included recognition for local athletic teams.
The St. Charles Catholic High School football team, which won the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 2A title, and the St. John Warriors Red Super Bowl champions (nine- and 10-year-olds) were recognized at the beginning of the meeting. Hotard said the championships took on an added meaning since so many of the coaches and the players were displaced by Hurricane Ida yet continued to practice and excel.
The council also approved making Dec. 23 a holiday for parish employees. While many employees suffered devastating losses during Hurricane Ida, they never wavered from their commitment to their jobs, with several employees even sleeping at the parish complex for several nights.