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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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Another day at the office for Daniel Lorraine

Another day at the office for Daniel Lorraine

Lafourche Parish Councilman Daniel Lorraine, serving in his 33rd year, is doing his thing in typical fashion, despite the challenges of today’s economy or his fellow councilmen.

After decades of representing his district, Lorraine knows how to get what he wants, especially now when the Parish is dealing with lower revenue streams or when he thinks he is being ignored.

His latest actions at Tuesday’s public meeting in Mathews, successfully adding three drainage projects in District 9 to the proposed 2017 budget, are a perfect example of how he goes about the business of getting results.

About his proposals, Lorraine clarified: “Let me explain this. It’s two years that I’m trying to get these projects. I sent it in to Mrs. Randolph, and what happened there, we weren’t able to make any amendments. When Mr. Cantrelle took office in January, he asked every councilman to submit projects. These are my three projects I sent in on January 18th.”

In his West 107th proposal, street drainage will be culverted across a resident’s property to an outfall canal ($250,000).

On West 217th, culverting will improve poor drainage in a one-lane street which connects Hwy. 1 and Hwy. 3235 ($200,000).

Standing water in the front of West 123-124th Streets that hinders foot traffic in that area will be eliminated with the proposed raising of a sidewalk connecting the two streets along Hwy. 1 ($125,000).

Lorraine expresses displeasure that the projects were not included in the 2017 budget.

“I submitted it to Jimmy thinking it was in the budget, but lo and behold when I got a hold of the budget, none of my projects was in there. So here I am asking you for the three projects,” he says.

Lorraine’s amendments are part of a package of 34 budget changes that were considered on Tuesday.

He has learned his lesson when previous administrations did not act on his proposals. Amending them into the capital budget will assure they get done, he says.

His only opposition is the vote of the other councilmen, not the whim of the administration. At the Tuesday meeting, Lorraine asked Councilmen to support his three drainage projects by funding them out of Road Sales Tax District #2 (RSTD2) money.

Despite President Cantrelle’s recent warning that road projects in 2017 in RSTD2 will probably experience a shortfall in funding if additional revenue is not found, Lorraine pressed for his projects.

Other councilmen, notably Jerry Lafont and Armand Autin, disagree over use of “road” money for drainage.

Lafont, who has his own amendments on Tuesday’s agenda for improvements at the Cut Off Youth Center ($150,000), wavered over Lorraine’s requests, but relented.

“I think we might have to bond out some money. I just don’t like the fact of putting culverts all over the place. Just because you (Lorraine) had it for two years and nobody wanted to fund your projects. I’ll support it this time, but … ,” said Lafont.

Armand Autin opposed the funding.

“I’m not here to object strongly to any project, but the funding source is where my dilemma is. These road projects that we’re looking at, there’s going to be a shortfall. I’d be hesitant to vote for culverting a whole street, and not keeping that money in the roads. I don’t know why this wouldn’t be a project for Drainage District #1,” stated Autin.

Lorraine admonished his opposition, one of his favorite tactics.

“Mr. Autin, let me remind you, most of the tax money (RSTD2) is generated in mine and Mr. Lafont’s districts, but you get half the money,” he replied.

“I want to go on record as saying I would go along with a supplemental in the future, but until we find a way to get all these roads fixed that we have identified as problematic, and with a shortfall to fix them, I can’t support it,” Autin responded.

Lorraine argued again using history, another of his favorite tactics.

“We passed the tax in 1997 for RSTD2, and renewed it in 2008, and changed the wording to include roads, drainage and bridges. It comes in every month—a half-penny sales tax. If we are short, all we’ve got to do is bond some money. Don’t forget, RSTDA bonded $25 million. We (RSTD2) bonded $10 million and that’s almost paid for. The sales tax will continue to come in. Also, we have $200,000 from another unfinished project. We should be okay,” he said.

Councilman Autin voted against the West 107th project, but it passed 7-1 with Bo Melvin absent.

On Lorraine’s West 217th work, Autin and James Bourgeois voted “nay”, but the amendment still passed 6-2.

And on the sidewalk improvement, the vote was unanimously in favor of Lorraine’s measure.

It remains to be seen if Cantrelle will veto any of the amendments to his budget. But Lorraine is well aware that the Council can override a veto with a 2/3rds vote—it happened in December 2013 when former President Randolph attempted to veto 10 amendments to her 2014 budget.