NOTE: We were just directed to Councilman Aaron Lawler’s social media page where he posted the agenda for a Special Meeting of the Parish Council on Tuesday, December 3. That’s when the body, six (out of 11) of whom will not be around in January, will consider the largest capital expenditure in Ascension’s history.
Approval of Construction, Operation, and Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between ACUD #2 and Ascension Sewer, LLC
According to Lawler, the agreement has yet to be finalized.
Aaron Lawler I have not seen the final product and have therefore not decided what I will do.
To which District 4’s newly-elected representative would respond.
Corey Orgeron Aaron, sounds like the people are voicing their concerns. Maybe the 2019 council needs to hold off and truly allow the public’s input on the final proposal. Last I heard, it’s still a moving target and will be subject to revisions right up to the night of the meeting. You know as well as I, that the current council lost the public’s trust (replacing 6 council seats, and nearly two others in the last elections), all due to a lack of transparency and the opinion that self interest superseded that of the public. Before entering into a half billion dollar project I suggest that you guys consider taking another pause, allowing the public’s input on a final draft of the proposal in an attempt to restore their trust. Always remember, the council works for the public, not the other way around.
Responding to criticism that negotiations have been conducted in secret, Lawler posted:
Aaron Lawler there have been two open houses and several public meetings.
To which one citizen replied, rightly we think:
Justin Champlin Any idea when the updated E&Y report and when the amended draft of the contract is going to be available to review? I believe in the concept of East Bank Sewer but in your prior comments I noticed the multiple public meetings, etc. I attended a few of those and one of the last ones Ascension Sewer reps presented $45-$55 per month rates and capital investment of $225M. 2 days later in the newspaper they go to $56 per month initial rate increasing annually by 4% over 10 years to $82 per month. Now the initial contract mixes capital investment and financing. So my point is you cannot deny this presentation has constantly been changing and until we (the public) can see the full picture it’s hard for an AWT ratepayer like myself to support any Yes votes until all prudence and due diligence has been exhausted. I believe this can happen over a realistic time frame but next Tuesday with Thanksgiving in between seems rushed. Lots of uncertainties remain to the public because they will understand it when they get that first increased sewer bill and freak out. What will you do when you can’t do anything about rates for 10 years? It’s a real question you should be asking to reconsider the rates? Even ITEP contracts have to go through a 5 year renewal process. Maybe 10 years is too long. Just my respectful opinion.