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Wednesday, December 4, 2019



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Lafourche schedules 2020 budget hearings

Lafourche schedules 2020 budget hearings

Lafourche residents will have two opportunities next month to voice their concerns or make comments and suggestions for the 2020 budget.

The Lafourche Council voted to schedule budget hearings for 5 p.m. Nov. 12 and 13, before the final adoption of the budget on Nov. 26.

The 2020 operations and maintenance budget is being proposed at roughly $101.3 million, plus a total of $35 million for capital projects.

The parish’s budget year runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. The budget will be overseen by a new parish president and council, who take office in January, pending the results of the election Saturday and any runoffs on Nov. 16.

A copy of the proposed budget can be found online at lafourchegov.org under the Finance Department.

The council delayed taking action to commit $4.6 million to a road project with the South Lafourche Airport until a dedicated funding source can be found.

Members were scheduled to vote on an agreement with the Greater Lafourche Port Commission to build the bridge and connector road between La. 3235 and La. 308 where it connects to the airport.

The airport is overseen by the Port Commission.

In total, the project is expected to cost about $35 million. The port has already received a $16.4 million federal grant, but needs to move quickly to secure the other money needed before the grant expires, Port Director Chett Chiasson said.

“This is a very busy area, any better access would be very good for the community,” he said.

The port is also committing $4.6 million, which it is asking the parish to match, in order to lobby the state for $9.3 million in capital outlay money.

Parish Finance Director Connie Duet said the initial plan was to pull about $1.168 million a year from the Road Sales Tax District 2 fund, if there was enough money.

Some council members said they were concerned about pulling all the money from that fund, versus spreading it out so money would still be available for other road projects in the district.

Road Sales Tax District 2 covers south Lafourche and parts of central Lafourche.

Council Chairman Noonie Autin asked to defer the matter until the exact funding source could be found and reviewed, and the parish District Attorney’s Office had a chance to look at the agreement.

The federal grant stipulates the project must be ready to bid by September 2020, with an end date of 2025. To get to that point, the parish needs the $9.3 million in state capital outlay money. The state application is due Nov. 1.

“That’s why it’s important to get it done,” Chiasson said.

Autin agreed to call a special meeting to approve the document before that deadline. A date for that meeting has not been set. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.