Ascension taxpayers picking up AWT/Tom Pertuit’s fine?

Tom Pertuit (April 10, 2018)

Ascension Parish hired William Daniel to be its Infrastructure Division Director, a position created with him in mind, in October of 2017.  Daniel has stated on several occasions that he was brought on to bring sanitary sewer to the parish’s east bank where new subdivision’s pump more, and more, and more treated wastewater into the already compromised Bayou Manchac.  Ascension Wastewater Treatment, the company treating much of that sewage and an integral cog in whatever plan Daniel’s concocts, was just fined $357,000 for non-compliance over the last decade.

Don’t feel too badly for AWT and (owner) Tom Pertuit.  All those community sewer systems it operates, over 150 with 16,2000 customers according to The Advocate, were effectively given to AWT and Pertuit by subdivision developers not keen on operating sewer systems in perpetuity.  And then there’s…

$306,200 contract with AWT approved by Utilities

Ascension Parish Council Utilities Committee recommended approval of an agreement to pay AWT $306,200 on May 16, 2018 in return for…what, exactly?  A version of the agreement first appeared on a Utilities agenda in August of 2017, again two months later, and on every 2018 agenda through May culminating, finally, in a 4-1 vote to recommend approval.  But what, exactly, is Ascension Parish buying?

“The capacity addition to Renaissance Treatment Plant is for the purpose of adding capacity for Hollows of Dutchtown (196 Lots), the Hwy 73 Homes (80 Lots), and the 1 Storage Facility (2 Bathrooms, 1 Employee)…For this amount of capacity at the Renaissance Treatment Plant, Ascension Parish shall make a one-time payment to AWT in the amount of $306,200.”

Of which the Infrastructure Division Director said:

“We are going to own it lock, stock and barrel.  No matter what happens in the future, that belongs to the parish.  He (AWT) can’t move it, he can’t use it for somebody else.  That belongs to us until the end of time or until we deem that we no longer need it.”

Oh, you silver-tongued Daniel.  He modified/qualified/contradicted himself within minutes, offering:

“We are not giving a private citizen money to own something.  We are buying capacity in a system that’s already in existence.  It would be like saying you pay a construction company to build a road; it would not be his road.  It’s still the road for the parish but we’re just paying somebody to build it.”

Well, not really.  The sewer system in question was upgraded to service the toilets being flushed in Hollows of Dutchtown which avoided the cost of building its own treatment plant.  Years after the fact somebody at Ascension’s Governmental Complex decided it would be a good idea to defray AWT’s cost while the developer gets off scott-free.

Why are existing Ascension taxpayers footing the bill, guaranteeing AWT’s profit, and bearing all the risk so that more subdivisions might be built along Hwy 73 you might be asking?  The answer could not be more simple.

The Hollows of Dutchtown’s development group includes Jameson Chauvin, J. Clayton Mitchell, Corbin Ladner, and David P. Law who ponied up during Matassa’s campaign.  Throw in their engineering firm of choice and the group was good for $26,000.  We believe these are the guys brought to Matassa, with their wallets, by Dempsey Pendarvis during the 2015 campaign who insisted that Ricky Compton be fired as Planning Director.

And don’t forget the $2,500 that Pertuit kicked in.

That silver-tongued Dawson (Bill) summed it up best…

Dawson: “We got handed a big stinky pile.” (The AWT agreement)

Try as he might, William Daniel cannot make this smell any better.