$10.6 million in Drainage funds transferred to MoveAscension road initiative

On Monday a unanimous (three of the ten Commissioners were not present) East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement whereby $10,674,865 of dedicated drainage tax revenue would be transferred to the MoveAscension road improvement initiative.  The agreement will have to be approved by the Parish Council, ten of whose members double as Drainage Commissioners, a mere formality.  The total will be spread over the next three years.

“I thought we had funding already set aside for road projects,” Commissioner/Councilman Todd Lambert voiced the only concern.  “We gotta be careful because our drainage funds are dedicated.”

Lambert explained that a recently renewed 5-mill property tax is intended for drainage maintenance, while a perpetual sales tax is dedicated to “major drainage.”  Those taxes generate just north of $20 million annually.  Assistant DPW Director (he had been designated as “Director” on past agendas without ever being ratified) Ron Savoy maintained its legality “as long as we receive a drainage improvement.”

For whatever reason, the question was not answered by Legal Adviser Cody Martin.  As MoveAscension, including several widening projects, progresses all of the roadside ditches will be reconfigured along with culvert replacements in 2020 when $4.3 million in drainage money is being allocated.  The remaining $6.3 million will be transferred to the transportation initiative in 2021-22 when MoveAscension contemplates replacement of three bridges on Roddy Road. 

In other business:

  • resolution was authorized for President Kenny Matassa’s administration to draft of Letter of Objection to unspecified drainage improvement projects being undertaken by East Baton Rouge Parish.  An animated Commissioner/Councilman Randy Clouatre urged that letter be forwarded to Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana’s Bond Commission (which meets to consider the projects on Thursday), and Ascension’s state and federal legislative delegations.  Matassa, who actually attended Monday’s meeting, conceded, “we don’t have enough information” to determine whether or not “there is any adverse impact.”  Councilman Clouatre compared the scenario to Livingston Parish’s lawsuit to enjoin Ascension’s construction of Laurel Ridge Levee extension.
  • Laurel Ridge Levee “Right-of-Way acquisition remains on hold” according to Glenn Shaheen of GSA Consulting Engineers.  Pontchartrain Levee District has agreed to fund the bulk of that acquisition along with design of the levee extension which has been stalled since Livingston filed that lawsuit two years ago.
  • “300 or so” residences in the Bayou Conway watershed could face substantial flood insurance premium increases unless Letters of Map Revision (LOMR) are redone and accepted by FEMA by December 1.  To avoid those higher premiums new Elevation Certificates will be required.