Sorrento’s Councilman Donald Schexnaydre has pushed for answers to persistent drainage problems where budget constraints leave the town at East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1’s (commonly referred to as “EA Drainage Board”) mercy. Three months ago Schexnaydre posed a simple question. On December 4, 2018 Schexnaydre made a motion to seek an opinion from Louisiana’s Attorney General asking:
Does Louisiana’s State Constitution and/or statutory law prohibit the Drainage Board and/or Ascension Parish Government from cleaning, clearing, and/or digging out roadside ditches within the corporate limits of the Town of Sorrento?
The motion was seconded by each of Schexnaydre’s colleagues, rendering the vote to follow anticlimactic. No such opinion was ever requested, Town Attorney Matthew Percy diverting the council with talk of a lawsuit against EA Drainage to force the ditch-cleaning.
That suit has not been filed, either, for whatever reason. In the interim the AG has offered an opinion to the Ward One South Gravity Drainage District which resolves the issue. Citing Louisiana Revised Statute 38:1764, the AG wrote:
The authority herein granted may be exercised and the works of improvement herein authorized may be constructed within or without the limits of the districts so long as they inure to the direct benefit of the district and the inhabitants thereof and the commissioners of the district or sub-district for the purpose of securing a proper outlet for the waters of the district or sub-drainage district they represent, may extend canals or ditches or both canals and ditches beyond the limits of their respective districts, with the same power and authority of expropriating the right of way in the same manner and to the same extent as if the canals and ditches were wholly within the district they represent.
Accordingly, so long as the project is for a”direct benefit of the district and the inhabitants thereof,” the District may expend funds on projects beyond its boundaries.
EA Drainage is scheduled to go into Executive Session tonight to discuss:
In accordance with La. R.S. 42:17(A)(10), discussion of drainage work performed within municipal boundaries, including related legal counsel opinions and communications that are privileged under La. Code Evid. 506(B) (Cody M. Martin, Legal)
The Town of Sorrento, as it happens, lies within the East Ascension Consolidated Gravity District No. 1. Town residents are inhabitants of the District too.
If EA Drainage Board can expand its operations outside the district, like to St. James Parish for example, it can certainly improve drainage inside the district, even if that area coincides with the town limits of Sorrento. If Cody Martin says different Ascension Parish needs to find new Legal Counsel.