Highlights from the Parish President’s Report of the St. Martin Parish Council Committee Meetings of June 21, 2022

ITEM 1 OF ADMINISTRATIVE/FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING-PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AT COUNCIL MEETING

It is my understanding that the purpose of the first agenda item of your Administrative/Finance Committee meeting is to review the Council’s policy for public participation at Council meetings. As a threshold matter, any rules or procedures you adopt to govern your meetings are solely within your discretion. Such matters fall outside my providence as Parish President. Nonetheless, I feel constrained to comment upon your current policy, having drafted it while counsel for the Parish, and having attended Parish Council and numerous other public meetings for over twenty-two years.
The current policy of the Council was adopted in accordance with Act 850 of the 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session which amended La. R.S. 42:14(D) to read as follows:

“Except school boards, which shall be subject to R.S. 42:15, each public body conducting a meeting which is subject to the notice requirements of R.S. 42:19(A) shall allow a public comment period at any point in the meeting prior to action on an agenda item upon which a vote is to be taken. The governing body may adopt reasonable rules and restrictions regarding such comment period.” (Emphasis supplied)

The current policy mirrors that legislative dictate.

It is essential to note that under the current policy, and without offense to La. R.S. 42:14(D), to comment upon an agenda item UPON WHICH A VOTE IS TO BE TAKEN, the Chair should be notified accordingly PRIOR to action being taken on the matter. Also, at the discretion of the Chair, anyone wishing to comment upon an agenda item may be requested to complete a comment form. This is your normal procedure, and indeed, you will note that on our screens these instructions are displayed before the meeting. Additionally, a distinction must be made between one wishing to address the Council on any matter whatsoever, and the situation of commenting on an agenda “action” item. In the former instance, one is required to contact the Council Clerk and request to be placed on the agenda.

Finally, no advance notice request to address the council is required relative to commenting upon a matter which calls for a public hearing; i.e., the adoption of an ordinance.

I trust that the foregoing background information will be of benefit to you as you address Item 1 of your Administrative/Finance Committee meeting.

ITEM 2 OF ADMINISTRATIVE/FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING-PRECINCT MERGER

At your regular meeting of June 7, 2022, you adopted Ordinance Numbers 22-06-1359-OR and 22-06-1360-OR. The former adopts the redistricting plan mandated by the 2020 Census while the latter establishes whole precincts as mandated by the Louisiana Election Code. Unfortunately, the redistricting increased the number of whole precincts from 29 to 56.

Upon the adopting of the aforementioned ordinances, and because the only other parish-wide elective body (school board) has adopted its redistricting plan, the law permits the merging of precincts. As was succinctly stated at your meeting on June 7, 2022, conducting an election with 56 precincts would be difficult from both logistical and financial perspectives. By law, there must be an assigned commissioner for each precinct, and a large number of voting machines must be secured for each such precinct. There are shortages of both.

Consequently, permission was requested from the Secretary of State for the merger of the 56 precincts established by Ordinance Number 22-06-1360-OR. Thus, Ordinance Summary No. 1364-OR was introduced at your last meeting. The proposed edict reduces the number of precincts via merger by 25%. Also, the subject ordinance assigns polling location for each precinct. The merger of the precincts and the assignment of the polling locations have not been an easy task. They are the product of a great deal of effort and deliberation among the Registrar of Voters, Clerk of Court, our demographer, and my office. I do not hesitate to opine that the merger and selection of polling locations have been fair, reasonable, and submitted in compliance with law.

Finally, note that action must be taken on this proposed ordinance at a special meeting of June 29, 2022. Otherwise, the Secretary of State’s deadline for submission of final precincts and polling locations is July 10, 2022, for purposes of the fall elections. The Registrar of Voters and Clerk of Court will need several days to insure that the proper assignment of registered voters to each precinct. Hence, the adoption of the proposed ordinance at your regular meeting on July 5, 2022, would not afford ample time to complete the process.

For your easy reference, I offer the following comments with pertinent principles and guidance which was set forth in my last report:

“These items call for the discussion of Ordinance Summary Numbers 1359-OR and 1360-OR which, respectively, officially and formally adopt the redistricting plan approved by the Citizens Reapportionment Committee and creates whole precincts as a consequence. Candidly, the former Ordinance does not permit the Council to exercise much discretion since Section 2-02(B) of the Home Rule Charter mandates that the Citizen’s Reapportionment Committee’s approved plan “shall be adopted without change” by the Parish Council. Of course, redistricting is constitutionally mandated as a product of the 2020 Census. However, Summary Number 1360-OR presents a different landscape since its substance does not require action by the Citizens Reapportionment Committee, and it is an offspring of the redistricting.

As a backdrop to Summary Number 1360-OR, you will recall that on December 3, 2019, the Council enacted Ordinance Number 19-12-1281-OR which merged/consolidated several precincts within the Parish. This Ordinance was adopted in anticipation of the aforementioned redistricting and was prepared and recommended by Mike Hefner of Geographic Planning and Demographic Services, the demographer who was retained to assist the Parish in the recently completed mandated reapportionment. Legislation enacted in 2018 allows Parishes to design a “clean” set of new PROSPECTIVE precinct boundaries in preparation for redistricting. See La. R.S. 18:532.1. Such action is in association with changing boundaries of legacy precincts away from a line that was non-conforming to current state mandates to precincts that satisfy statutory requirements. See La. R.S. 18:532 and 532.1. The number of precincts were reduced from 51 to 29 by virtue of the 2019 Ordinance.

Now that redistricting is complete, new precincts must be established to comport with the new district boundaries and required state law. This was conveyed several times as the Parish commenced its redistricting. Indeed, I remind you of these comments from my report last August:
‘Therefore, to aid you in case any questions are presented to you on these matters, I offer the following recapitulation of the prior Council actions relative to this matter.

On July 6, 2021, Ordinance Number 21-07-1325-OR was enacted which corrected minor errors on the property descriptions contained in the prior ordinance and assigned polling places for each precinct. The polling places for the precincts were the product of discussions among the Registrar of Voters, the Clerk of Court, and Mr. Hefner. The criteria utilized by them in determining appropriate polling location were practical, cogent, and more importantly in compliance with all pertinent legal mandates. The final selections were reviewed with me and same was thereafter presented to the Council for consideration and adoption.

There are several points which must be established. As a threshold matter, the precincts, and in some cases the polling location therefor, will likely change after reapportionment. Moreover, a smaller number of precincts and polling places constitute significant cost savings. The polling places identified will likely continue to be used after reapportionment since they are conveniently located and afford easy points of ingress and egress. Finally, the location of the early voting locations in the Parish will remain unchanged.”

At this juncture, I summarize several principles from the election code which one must grasp in order to understand the necessity for changing precinct boundaries.

A precinct is the smallest unit of an area having defined geographical boundaries.

No precinct shall be wholly contained within the territorial boundaries of another precinct.

A precinct must reflect less than 2,200 registered voters and at least 300 voters.

No precinct shall consist of more than one district seat as regards a parish governing authority.

WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, precincts established after reapportionment/redistricting cannot be merged or consolidated until 2023.

Precincts are based upon the district lines of the parish governing authority.

A ‘polling location’ is the site where voting takes place. One polling place is required for each precinct; however, a parish governing authority shall, to the extent possible, locate multiple precincts in a polling location to accommodate efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the conveniency of voters.

Hence, as the governing authority of the Parish, the Council must adopt Ordinance Summary Number 1360-OR or a similar edict establishing precincts. At a meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, among Mike Hefner, Becky Patin and Tricia Hammon (Office of Clerk of Court), Patricia Guidry (Registrar of Voters), and myself, it was determined that the precinct number and description could not be changed until 2023, much to our chagrin. However, on the afternoon of May 12, 2022, Mr. Hefner telephoned my office advising that a conference that day between him and election officials with the Secretary of State reflected that once the School Board’s redistricting is completed, it is likely the precincts identified in Summary Number 1360-OR will be subject of merger or consolidation before any of the elections scheduled for this year. In short, the exception referenced on page two is applicable to the extant situation.

This process is indeed somewhat confusing and time consuming. Indeed, it is unfortunate that the blend of federal and state elections principles does not allow for a more efficient process on the heels of redistricting. However, the Mr. Hefner, Becky Patin and her staff, Patricia Guidry, and I will diligently pursue all avenues available to address the merger/consolidation of precincts, and the selection of appropriate/convenient polling places as quickly as possible. Everyone for obvious reasons seek to avoid both the creation of unnecessary precincts and then changing them after only a few months.

I trust that you will find the foregoing information beneficial to understanding the process.

BAYOU ESTATES FLOODWALL

On September 7, 2021, the Council adopted Resolution Number 21-072-RS which effectively ended the Bayou Estates Floodwall Project in lieu of other potential alternatives to address high water issues in the Bayou Estates Subdivision and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the exploration of other alternatives has been thwarted by numerous obstacles in obtaining servitudes and other related issues. Notwithstanding all of the foregoing the construction of the flood wall is again on our radar as a consequence of additional funding from the Office of Community Development. Before proceeding further, I present for your edification the following background information which has in one form or another been previously presented to you in my prior President’s Reports including those from December 2019, March 2020, September 2020, and September 2021.

The Bayou Estates Flood Wall Project is a twelve-year old endeavor. To recount the entire history of this matter would serve no useful purpose at this point. Suffice it to state, however, that in March 2018, when I assumed office, local opposition to the project was pronounced, and frankly, acrimonious in nature. No permit for the project had ever been secured, and most rights-of-way associated with it had not been granted. By the fall of 2019, many of the concerns of those who had opposed the project had been to some degree assuaged, and the numerous permits required by DOTD, DNR, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers had been secured.

Therefore, after an arduous journey which included regulatory quagmires, contentious public hearings, and unfounded allegations of wrongdoings, this project was finally let for bids which were received on November 5, 2019. Unfortunately, only one bid was submitted despite the fact that sixteen contractors secured the plans for the project and twelve potential bidders attended the mandatory bid conference several weeks prior to bid opening. The sole bid which was received was $9.4 million, almost twice the amount budgeted and available for this project at that time. This was shocking, and disappointing, to say the least.

Contractors who obtained plans and/or attended the bid conference were supposedly contacted by the engineer, and they articulated various and sundry reasons why they chose not to even bid. Mo Saleh, the engineer for the project at that time, opined that based upon his discourse with contractors, the many different construction fields embraced by the project rendered it too complex for one contractor, thus resulting in only one bid and its inflated amount. At such, he recommended rebidding the project in four separate “segments.” He postulated that this would encourage additional contractors to submit bids in amounts far less than the $9.4 million bid. Therefore, a schedule was prepared which called for the letting of bids as suggested in early 2020 with a bid opening in March, 2020.

Consequently, at the December 5, 2019, meeting, the Council formally rejected the bid presented and confirmed/affirmed the decision to rebid. In my November 2019 report to you, I observed:

“If the second round of bids are over the budget, then a re-assessment of this decade old project will be necessary. Regrettably, the first step in the process may be the termination of Mr. Saleh’s services and a total evaluation of the project by another engineer. The problem, however, will be whether there will be sufficient time to commence the project before the sunset period for the mitigation proceeds being used to fund the project.”

Not unexpectantly, those comments proved prophetic as the following factual scenario reflects.

The second round of bids were received on March 19, 2020. As previously noted, the bids were in four segments. One segment (Drainage system revisions) received no bids. The low bids on the other three segments totaled $5,734,233.60. This amount alone was $1.2 million over budget, not considering the segment which received no bid. A rejection of the bids was obviously warranted. In preparation for the adoption of such action, however, the following steps were taken.

On April 24, 2020, a telephonic conference was conducted among Mo Saleh, James Blanchard (the project manager for Saleh’s firm), Heath Babineaux, Kasey Courville, Richard Minvielle, and me to discuss the status of the project and what our options might be at that juncture. Suffice it state that two basic facts were deemed evident: 1) the project could not be undertaken without all phases or segments being completed; and 2) the prospect of this project (as designed) ever receiving bids within budget was slim to none. Consequently, I requested and received from Mo Saleh his recommendation that all bids be rejected on a budgetary basis and because the project would not meet its flood control objectives without completion of all four segments.

On April 30, 2020, Heath Babineaux, Kasey Courville, Calder Hebert, and I conferred with Richard Minvielle. Our focus addressed whether there was any other project which would qualify for the CDBG-DRU funds previously allocated for the flood wall ($3.6 million). Any such project had to be related to flood mitigation associated with Hurricane Gustav. Several alternatives were discussed generally. Moreover, on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, at my request, Nick Sonnier with Sellers and Associates visited the Stephensville area to explore other potential methods of completing the project within the general scope of the original plans. Mr. Courville had obtained digital copies of the flood wall plans prepared by Mo Saleh, and Sellers and Associates reviewed them, all pursuant to my instructions. Finally, Mr. Minvielle reviewed various census data relative to lower St. Martin, all in an attempt to identify an alternative project for which the CDBG-DRU funds could be used. Unfortunately, the latter effort yielded no fruition.

Ordinarily, the Parish would have been compelled by the Public Bid Law to act upon the bid(s) opened on March 19, 2020, by either rejection or acceptance within 45 days of the bid opening; however, because of the declared COVID-19 State of Emergency, the 45-day period was suspended. Nonetheless, since the May 15, 2020 Executive Order of the Governor, 58 JBE 2020, could, arguably, be construed as igniting the accrual of the 45-day period, the issue of the bid amounts was placed on your agenda for June 2, 2020.

Therefore, upon my recommendation, on June 2, 2020, the Council adopted Resolution Number 20-045-RS, which rejected the second round of bids, allowed my office to explore other alternative plans/projects, and to dismiss the services of Mo Saleh. The steps, in sequence, adopted in connection therewith were: 1) the formal rejection of the bids; 2) termination of the engineer’s contract; 3) having Sellers and Associates, together with Kasey Courville, confer with the various contractors who bid and who did not bid to vet their concerns (Mo Saleh was supposed to have done this); 4) meet with CDBG personnel to explain what we were doing; and, 5) explore alternatives to complete the wall without having to obtain any new permits (Sellers & Associates had cultivated some ideas in this respect).

The actions referenced above were completed and included the formal dismissal of Mo Saleh on July 28, 2020. Furthermore, Sellers and Associates was formally retained and after much evaluation and analysis determined that, with modifications to the original plans, the total cost of its proposed project would approximate $6,193,897.30. Of that amount, the cost share or local match from the Parish would increase to $1,364,950.00, almost one million dollars greater than the original budgets.

At that juncture, I recommend that we proceed one last time to bid this project with Sellers and Associates at the helm and in accordance with their modifications to the original plans. My position was bolstered by the fact that every year we spend over $200,000 in fighting high water issues in the affected area. Hence, on October 6, 2020, the Council adopted Resolution Number 20-078-RS authorizing the retention of Sellers & Associates and approving the budget for this project at $6,193,897.30, with the sum being financed via CDBG-DRU, HMGP funds, local (Parish) funds in the amount of $1,364,950.00, and such other awards/sources including any which may be available from the Louisiana Watershed Initiative. The Resolution further declared that, “Under no circumstances shall the contribution of the St. Martin Parish Government exceed 1,364,950.00.”

Immediately, Sellers & Associates commenced the chore of re-drafting the plans and specifications for the flood wall project and obtaining the necessary approval of modifications from the appropriate and necessary regulatory agencies. Moreover, it was further necessary to obtain “extensions” on the deadlines associated with the CDBG-DRU and HMGP awards since they were related/associated with the 2008 and 2011 weather events of Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav, respectively. Thus, the following deadlines were established with the clear understanding that they would not, and indeed COULD NOT, be extended under any circumstances:
Bidding and Contract Award: September 2021
Construction Completed: September 2022
Final Closeout: December 2022

As late as July of 2021, Sellers & Associates and my Office were diligently pursing additional rights-of-way which became necessary as issues evolved with the re-drafting of the original plans of Mo Saleh. Suffice to state that our efforts were obstructed by recalcitrant property owners, several of whom refused to cooperate, thus resulting in additional plan revisions.

Finally, the project was scheduled to be advertised for bidding beginning on September 1, 2021. However, Pan American, an engineering firm required by OCD for the State to review and approve all plans prior to bidding, advised that a final budget needed to be prepared. With the increased market demands for materials such as steel, the first budgetary projection of Sellers & Associates had increased to $8,043,999.46. The local match of Parish Government would be $3,215,051.94, well beyond the amount authorized by Resolution Number 20-078-RS adopted on October 6, 2020. Despite this development, our intention was to nonetheless bid the project on one last occasion-we simply had gone too far to take any other action.

Nonetheless, on the advice of Pan American, communicated on August 27, 2021, our Office researched the Louisiana Bid Law and these restraints were disclosed. First, La. R.S. 38:2212(H) mandates that any public entity must estimate the probable cost of the public work before advertising for bids. If funds that meet or exceed the estimate have not been authorized/committed by the public entity, then any subsequent bid process would be legally proscribed. Stated differently, the public bid law stipulates that whenever a public entity advertises for bids, it essentially certifies that funds in the amount of the budgeted/estimated sum are available and authorized.

Furthermore, La. R.S. 38:2214 declares that if a project proceeds to bid, and if the lowest responsible and responsive bid received is within the estimated amount, then the public entity MUST accept that bid and cannot simply “reject all bids.” It is not just cause to reject all bids because of the amount of a bid so long as the low bid is within the estimated budget. The Louisiana Supreme reinforced that principle in the case of New Orleans Rosenbush Claims Services, Inc. v. City of New Orleans, 653 So.2d 538 (La. 1995). Note again that Resolution Number 20-078-RS established a budget for the Bayou Estates Flood Wall of $6,193,897.30, with an authorized local match of $1,364.950.00.

Therefore, at that point, it was determined that if St. Martin Parish Government proceeded with the bid process under those circumstances, and should the low bid EXCEED $8,043,999.46, then the Parish could reject all bids without any legal issues. This scenario could well have occurred given the even greater construction issues which have been enhanced by the COVID-19 Pandemic and, most recently, by Hurricane Ida. On the other hand, should the low bid have fallen within the budgeted/estimated amount, the Parish could have been responsible for up to $3,215,051.19 because of the dictates of La. R.S. 38:2212(H). Noteworthy is the fact that Sellers & Associates opined that it was unlikely that the low bid would be within the 6-million-dollar parameters set by Resolution Number 20-078-RS. No elaboration was warranted about the imprudence of proceeding with a bid process under that disappointing scenario which would place over $2 million of local, public money at peril.

As a product of all of the foregoing, therefore, I requested that the Parish Council address this matter forthwith. I noted that there were alternatives available to address the high-water issues which could be explored and likely financed within the $1.3 million dollar figure set forth as a local match in Resolution Number 20-078-RS. Included in this “Plan B” approach was the purchase and installation of a pumping system within strategic parts of Bayou Estates Subdivision, an alternative which had been vetted by Sellers & Associates. Moreover, I advised at that time that there remained the potential for such alternatives being financed through the previous CDBG-DRU and/or HMGP awards, provided they could be completed within the 2022 and/or 2023 sunset periods.

On September 7, 2021, the Council adopted Resolution Number 21-072-RS which maintained the total budget for the project and the limitations of the Parish’s contribution of $1,364,950.00. As alluded to previously, alternative methods explored by Sellers & Associates continued to be confronted with serious issues and objections. Nonetheless, alternatives also continued to be vetted and planned.

Then, suddenly and unexpectantly, in April, 2022, the potential for additional funding from OCD for the original plans of Sellers & Associates for the wall construction were vaguely discussed with Alberta Pate, a representative of the Office of Community Development. Therefore, the estimated construction budget which included the flood wall was fixed by Sellers & Associates at $8,050,000.00. None of us were optimistic that any progress would be realized since we needed an additional $1,856,102.00 in funding plus there were sunset periods of December 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, respectively for FEMA HMGP and CDBG-DRU funds. However, on June 3, 2022, I received a telephone call from the Office of Community Development (Ms. Pate) informing me that prior requests from my Office for additional funding had been APPROVED. The source of the additional funding was the Gustav/Ike Revitalization Program which is a separate and distinct grant program from the existing CDBG-DRU funding. The amount of that additional funding was the $1.8 million.

Therefore, on June 9, 2022, I participated in a conference call among our Director of Public Works, Alberta Pate and Syndi Pyro with OCD, Sellers & Associates (Todd Vincent and Nick Sonnier), and Russ Carpenter. We have now initiated the process for submitting the necessary applications for the additional funding which, upon approval, will permit another bidding process which we hope will yield acceptable bids.

One further significant point must be established. As alluded to previously, the additional funding of $1,856,102.70 emanates from a separate program, and therefore requires a new grant application, separate administrative tasks inclusive of requests for payments, record keeping, compliances, monitoring, and close-out. Richard Minvielle, our current grant consultant has undertaken the application process, and his fee will be the standard 2.5% of the award, payable only in the event the grant is actually awarded AND paid. If the project does not transpire, then no fee will be due. Also, because of time constraints, adherence to a federal procurement process is not possible which means the Parish will be responsible for paying the fee without the potential of reimbursement in the event the project is completed.

It is important that we proceed with “guarded optimism”. Several obstacles still remain. These include, but are not limited to two major issues:
Will the current budget of $8,050,000 still be viable in view of today’s market and supply chain issues? and
Will the sunset periods for the project completion be extended?

Both are of serious concern.

Of course, our local match remains fixed at $1,364,950.00. I will most assuredly keep you posted as this matter evolves.

2022 CAPITAL OUTLAY AWARDS AND DIRECT APPROPRIATIONS

The 2022 Legislative Session has now ended and two budget bills warrant our attention. The first is Act Number 117 (HB 2) and the second is Act Number 170 (HB592). The former is the Capital Outlay awards which require a local match of 25% while the second is a direct appropriation which requires no match.

Noteworthy is that the amount and number of Capital Outlay awards were unexpected. However, keep in mind that the Priority assigned to each award (Priority 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) determines when and if the award will actually be funded. Generally, all awards with a priority classification of 1are funded for the fiscal year of the award. Any other priority generally is not.
Act 170 is a direct appropriation which means that the money is available immediately for payment in the upcoming state fiscal year. Of course, several steps must be taken to secure the payment of the amount appropriated including the confection of a CEA with the State Office of the Treasurer.

For your easy reference, I have prepared and hereby attach, an abstract of awards from both Capital Outlay and Act 170 for your review. I have included the amounts awarded to our neighboring parishes for comparative purposes. Note that as regards Capital Outlay, I do not break the awards down into priority assignments. Thus, the amounts may be misleading in that they do not necessary guarantee ultimate funding for the project.
Also, please note that the Capital Outlay requests we submitted are set forth in your Resolution Number 21-076-RS, and are summarized as follows:
Frontage Road, Louisiana Highway 328 to Highway 347
Joe Daigre Canal Drainage Improvements (Phase 2)
Coulee LaSalle Drainage Improvements
Road Improvements on Four-Mile Bayou Road
Spanish Trail Industrial Park Access Road
Installation of water lines along Louisiana Highway 94
Infrastructure improvements to Waterworks District No. 4
Supplemental funding for the dredging of Catahoula Lake
Planning and improvements to Landry Lane, Edna Street, and Adell Street
Expansion/Renovation to Central Office Complex

I will be happy to review this matter with you at any time, and admonish you that Capital Outlay is not as “cut and dry” as it may appear and amounts “awarded” can be misleading especially with respect to priority classifications.

The direct appropriations reflected by Act 170 were indeed quite surprising, and prior to the session no one was aware that the State would have these funds available for distribution. Naturally, I will be happy to address these awards with you as well.

INDUSTRIAL WATER PLANT-RONALD DAIGLE

As I announced at your Regular Meeting on June 7, 2022, Mr. Ronald Daigle has accepted the position as the supervisor at the Industrial Water Plant. I am elated that we were able to secure Mr. Daigle’s employment, and I look forward to a long and productive professional relationship with him. He has earned a Class 4 Certification in Water Treatment, Water Production, and Water Distribution. Moreover, he has a Class 1 Certification in Wastewater Treatment. For your benefit, the following is a reproduction of his resume:

“HIGHLIGHTS
39 Years Water System operations and maintenance
39 Years working with chemicals under various conditions
21 Years supervisory experience
6 Years as DIRECTOR (oversee office personnel, bill payment, accounts receivable)
Excellent training skill
Knowledge of industry safety requirements
Knowledge of occupational hazards and safety precautions
Ability to understand and follow oral and written instructions
Ability to work under various physical surroundings and conditions
Ability to plan, layout and supervise the work of subordinates
Ability to perform computations and keep accurate records
Computer skills (Excel, Power Point etc…)
Understand the importance of accurate inventory control, shipping and receiving
Understand the importance of the upkeep and cleanliness of equipment and work area

EXPERIENCE

MAYFAIR a Division of Chamberlain 1978-81
WAREHOUSE and TRUCK LOADER

Organize daily invoices.
Pull orders from warehouse inventory.
Load trucks and guaranty accuracy of load at departure.
Clean work area.

1981 – 2012 (RETIRED)
Lafayette Consolidated Government LUS
WATER PLANT OPERATOR

OPERATIONS
Observe, regulate, and control the production, treatment and distribution of potable water
Inspect, repair and operate chemical feeders, agitators, pumps and related equipment
Collect samples and tested for quality control
Record pertinent information and make simple computation on standard forms
Cleaned work area to ensure sanitary conditions and prevent accidents

SUPERVISOR
Supervise and participate in the proper delivery, handling and usage of chemicals
Instruct the apprentice in all aspects of plant operation and upkeep of plant and equipment
Communicate with superiors and others to resolve production and treatment problems
Ability to use manual overrides in the event of automatic control system malfunction
Knowledge of occupational hazards and safety precautions
Knowledge of computer control system, policies, procedure, terminology and equipment

2012 – 2020
IBERIA PARISH GOVERNMENT
DIRECTOR (Water Production, Treatment, Distribution and Clerical)

Under minimal direction, oversees and administers all operations and activities of the Water District.
Coordinates work, monitor progress, assists with complex problems and situations and provide technical expertise. Ensures department compliance with codes, laws, rules, regulations, standards, policies, and procedures. Monitors work environment and use of safety procedures and equipment. Attends Board meetings, provides information and recommendations. Executes and administers all policies, plans, and provisions of the Board. Develops annual budget and submits to the Board. Reports to the Board President.

EDUCATION

Acadiana High School class of 1977

UL-Lafayette 1976-78 course work in civil engineering and computer science

Forklift Certified, HAZWOPPER, Defensive Driving, Emergency Response,
Confined Space and Gas Detection, OEM for Valves and Hydrants and flow meters, Pump and Equipment Malfunction, Work Quality, Lockout/Tagout
HazMat Tech, Total Quality Management

State of Louisiana Certified:
CLASS 4 Water Treatment
CLASS 4 Water Production”
CLASS 4 Water Distribution
CLASS 1 Wastewater Treatment”

I strongly suspect that as we proceed with our water consolidation plans, Mr. Daigle’s vast, professional experience will become particularly valuable.

WATER SECTOR PROGRAM

The State has issued the guidelines for the Round 2 funding of the Water Sector Program. Applications will be received between July, 15, 2022, and August 31, 2022. It is anticipated that the State will have $450 million available for funding for water and sewer projects, with a maximum grant amount of $5,000,000 per individual project and a minimum match of 25%. If the application embraces a consolidation of water systems, then the maximum match is $5,000,000 PER SYSTEM! Round 1 of the program awarded $300 million for water and sewer projects. Consolidation is a high priority in the grading process as is the “shovel readiness” of the project. Moreover, the ability to provide a local match merits a high grade in the selection process. Thus, we should be in a position to present a potent application.

On June 16, 2022, I conferred with Todd Vincent of Sellers & Associates to guide us through the application process. This firm is also assisting the Parish in our consolidation efforts, and they have done substantial work in identifying the precise steps which we must adopt to confect a functionable consolidation. Of course, we have set aside a portion of our ARPA funds for the consolidation. Consequently, Sellers & Associates will be preparing an agreement relative to the administration of a prospective application for funding through the Water Sector Program. I again note that applications will be accepted between July 15, 2002, and August 31, 2022, with the awards being announced in late October or early November.
I will provide more particulars as we proceed with the preparation of the application.

SENATE BILL 16

In both my April and May 2022 reports I referenced Senate Bill 16. The substance of this legislation was described previously by me as follows:

“Senator Fred Mills has introduced legislation that will potentially increase the amount of video poker revenue which local governing authorities receive from video poker tax revenue. The current law establishes a Video Draw Poker Device Fund and provides for the distribution and expenditure of monies in the fund. Further, proceeds in the fund can be withdrawn only pursuant to appropriation by the legislature and 25% thereof is distributed in the following priority:
1. To provide district attorneys and assistant district attorneys increased compensation not to exceed $5,400,000.

2. Thereafter, to the governing authorities of municipalities in which video poker devices are operated and to the governing authorities of each parish and the sheriff of each parish, to be divided equally between them.

As regards the 75% of the collections, an amount therefrom is allocated to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Department of Justice pursuant to legislative appropriation. All remaining money in the fund is then deposited in the state general fund.

The proposed legislation, Senate Bill 16, provides that any portion of the unexpended or unencumbered funds after the aforementioned 25% allocations shall not revert to the general fund, but must be divided among the local governing authorities and sheriffs without the necessity of appropriation. It is anticipated that St. Martin Parish should receive an additional $300,000 annually if this legislation is enacted.”

On April 4, 2022, Sheriff Breaux and I attended the Senate Finance Committee when this bill was considered. The Committee approved the bill and the full Senate passed it. The Sheriff and I later testified before the House Appropriations Committee which also reported the bill favorably. The bill then passed a vote of the full house and as of this writing is only awaiting the signature of the Governor who is not expected to veto the legislation. I wish to thank both Senator Mills who authored the legislation and Representative Mike Huval who presented to bill to the full House.

MEETING/COOPERATIVE ENDEAVORS WITH SHERIFF

Sheriff Breaux and I conferred on June 14, 2022, to discuss a myriad of items of significance to both of our jurisdictions. I succinctly review the tenor/subject of our discourse as follows. First, we discussed his plans for a satellite office at the Public Safety Complex which is currently under construction. As the parish governing authority, St. Martin Parish Government is responsible for equipping the facility with furniture and fixtures. We discussed the timing of our contribution which will be in 2023 and will include only furniture, desks and chairs. Moreover, we reviewed the current jail conditions and both concur that at some point in the next few years, serious planning for a new jail will be necessary. Therefore, we agreed that Sheriff Breaux would develop several options relative to a new facility, after which we will meet with our legislative delegation, State and Federal, and discuss potential funding sources. Our plans are to arrange these meetings in late July and early August of this year. Candidly, I suspect a new jail would cost approximately $30 million.

Additionally, Sheriff Breaux has installed security cameras with the ability to read license plates at the Butte LaRose Boat landing and will be installing similar cameras at the newly renovated Bayou Benoit Boat landing. These locations have been the object of vandalism over the past couple of years according to records of complaints received by the Sheriff’s Office.

Using LGAP funds, I have ordered a Speed Trailer which will be monitored by the Sheriff’s Office. This unit will have the capability of recording and storing a history of speed data so that law enforcement will be able to identify those areas in which traffic control is needed. As such, Sheriff Breaux will soon be using motorcycles for speed control on the roads which are problematic according to the data captured by the speed trailer. According to him, motorcycles are the best method of such traffic regulation.

Finally, Sheriff Breaux will be obtaining a sophisticated drone, and we have agreed that Parish Government will have access to the drone and its certified operator. We will pay the cost of the operator whenever we need to utilize the drone. It is anticipated that our use will be primarily limited to the inspection of our major lateral especially in pre-storm and post-storm instances.

DIRECT APPROPRIATION FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

As I advised you previously, last year, Senator Fred Mills was successful in securing a $1.5 million direct appropriation for “land acquisition” in connection with the development of a “business park” located east of the Mack dealership in the Breaux Bridge area. The appropriation was divided with $1 million dollars to the City of Breaux Bridge and $500,000 in favor of the Parish. The concept which was solely for the acquisition of land was, frankly, simply unattainable for numerous legal and pragmatic reasons, one of which was the absence of any funds for the construction of infrastructure if the proposed property could have even been acquired.

The appropriation has now been amended to identify its uses as “economic development” in the Breaux Bridge area. Furthermore, the appropriation is totally in favor of St. Martin Parish. However, many of the previously defined legal and practical obstacles with the original award remain.
It is critical to note that any award must be directed toward one “economic development” endeavor. Thus, the seminal issue is to identify a specific venture for which the proceeds can be used and potential public and/or private partners who can contribute to a reasonable endeavor. Noteworthy is that $1.5 million dollars for any particular project is not a great deal of money once one factors in the cost of infrastructure.
Hence, SMED Director Jennifer Stelly and I drafted a Request for Proposal for the commercial development, pursuant to a “public-private partnership, of approximately a 43-acre tract of land south of I-10 in the proximity of Exit 109. This tract falls within the parameters of the appropriation. On May 6, 2022, the RFP was discussed with Mayor Calais who endorsed the plans by e-mail dated May 9, 2022, after he and the City Attorney had reviewed the RFP. We are of course looking at the 2022-2023 state budget year for defining reasonable, realistic uses of any funds. Responses to the RFP are not due until August.

TAX COLLECTIONS

I have reviewed the tax collection reports for January-May 2022 and offer the following summary/evaluation:
A. Net Collections for Sales Tax District #1:

January-May 2022 Net Collections: $1,620,733.48
January-May 2021 Net Collections: $1,477,986.92
Average 2022 Monthly Net Collections: $324,146.69
Average 2021 Monthly Net Collections: $309,495.52
Average 2020 Monthly Net Collections: $251,006.17

B. Collections for Sales Tax District #2:
January-May 2022 Net Collections: $672,385.10
January-May 2021 Net Collections: $503,682.12
Average 2022 Monthly Net Collections: $134,477.02
Average 2021 Monthly Net Collections: $112,363.68
Average 2020 Monthly Net Collections: $95,507.00

As evident by the foregoing, the NET amounts collected in January-May 2022 in both districts exceed the average monthly NET collections in both 2021 and 2020 for the time period of January-May. As regards Sales Tax District No. 1, the January-May 2022 monthly collections are $142,746.56 GREATER than what was collected in January-May 2021. In Sales Tax District #2, January-May 2022 collections were $168,702.98 GREATER than January-May 2021. Furthermore, THE READER SHOULD NOTE THAT I AM COMPARING NET COLLECTIONS while in the past I have compared current net to past years’ gross collections.

Last month our net collections in Sales Tax District No. 1 were $11,106.89 less than the collections in April. In Sales Tax District No. 2, the May collections were $4,769.53 greater than April collections. My initial concerns about a decrease in the monthly collections from April to May in District No. 1 were quickly assuaged when I noted that in the last several years, there have been declines in collections from April to May as regards BOTH taxing districts.

I again observe that there are likely several factors at play relative to the increased sales tax collections including the rising prices associated with the current economic climate and the increasing of internet transactions. Hopefully, I will receive sufficient data from the Parish’s tax collecting agent to enable me to accurately evaluate the impact of remote sales.

The hotel/motel tax collections for January-May 2022 were $111,239.91 compared to 2021 collections of $91,969.12 during those months. The January-May collections were $19,270.79 greater that the first five months in 2021. Noteworthy is that the average monthly collections for all of 2021 were $26,404.7 while the average collection thus far is $22,247.98. I am hopeful that our hotel/motel collections will continue to remain strong although I am extremely concerned about the effect of rising fuel costs. As customary, I note that this tax is “seasonal” in nature, and hence a comparison of collections during specific “seasons” would be more valuable tool in planning and managing our affairs associated with this tax.

We did not receive any video poker from the State last month. It is our understanding that because of the passage of Senate Bill 16, our collections may be delayed since our payments will now be based upon ACTUAL receipts and not estimated receipts. Indeed, we have been advised that by the end of July, we should receive payments substantially greater than in years past.