Amended Council agenda eliminates vote on mega-sewer deal

From Ernst & Young’s analysis

Yesterday afternoon the published agenda for Thursday’s meeting of Ascension Parish Council was amended to replace the vote to approve a $783 million (that they’ll admit to) sewer deal.

The initial agenda included:

(8) Utilities Committee Recommendations: (Chairman Daniel Satterlee)
a) Approval of Construction, Operation, and Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between ACUD #2 and Ascension Sewer, LLC
b) Resolution to adjust utility rates for ACUD #2

The amended agenda reads:

(8) Utilities Committee Recommendations:
a) Review of negotiations of Construction, Operation, and Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between ACUD #2 and Ascension Sewer, LLC
b) Resolution to adjust utility rates for ACUD #2

Whatever minimal negotiations have taken place are shrouded in secrecy, the actual agreement only released to the public a few days ago.  Baton Rouge Business Report cited Bernhard Capital Partners’ (the money behind Ascension Sewer, LLC) point man yesterday:

Ascension Sewer’s Jeff Baudier says he feels the company has been transparent and given the parish council all the time and information it needs, but he understands the concerns and wants to make sure everyone is “comfortable with the deal.”

If Baudier really means that, which he most certainly does not, this entire charade should be left to the incoming Parish Council and presidential administration scheduled to sworn in the first week of January 2020.  There are literally hundreds of questions unanswered and the current council, led by its Utilities Committee chairman has shown no willingness to obtain those vital answers.

No. 1: Why did Ascension Sewer require a contract granting “exclusive” negotiating rights until May 2021 if these matters are so urgent?

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