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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Council to find resolution for unpaid levee work

Council to find resolution for unpaid levee work

A year-old unpaid “gentleman’s agreement” between former Parish President Charlotte Randolph and the South Lafourche Levee District for “emergency” levee work will be paid if the Council votes favorably, said President Jimmy Cantrelle at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

The agreement was that SLLD would undertake improvements to the Yankee Canal levee and the parish would reimburse the levee district.

The work on the levee was necessitated by the deplorable condition of the levee and by flooding conditions during a rain event around Christmas 2015.

Parish employees and residents spent Christmas Eve sandbagging as water threatened to overtop the old levee at E. 179th Street in East Golden Meadow.

District 9 Councilman Daniel Lorraine says that “in good faith” SLLD bid the project to improve the levee along Yankee Canal, and the former parish administration agreed to reimburse the district for the cost -- $197,000.

The final part of the agreement was that after completion, the parish would turn over the levee to SLLD.

Problem is, no formal written accord was ever signed by the parties involved.

When now Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle took over a year ago, he inherited a sticky situation.

Plaisance Dragline and Dredging Co. got the work with a low bid of $197,000 and subsequently brought the levee (no more than 1.5-ft. high) to a 5-foot elevation by using spoil material from Yankee Canal and charged SLLD only $140,000.

Lorraine said the mistake was Randolph’s, who never came before the council for approval of the work, but admitted that it was an emergency situation.

“It never went through the right channels, but it’s a sweetheart deal,” because the work was done under bid, and the parish will not have to maintain the levee going forward, he said.

Lorraine has asked Cantrelle repeatedly at council meetings during 2016 to pay the bill.

Tuesday, Cantrelle said he asked for District Attorney Cam Morvant’s opinion.

“This was done by the previous administration. There is no paper trail. It’s kind of hard to pay for something with no paper trail. But, I don’t think there’s any problem. The DA said to put up a resolution. Ya’ll vote on it and we pay for it,” Cantrelle told the council.

A resolution will most likely be on the January 24 agenda.