Selectmen approve bond for wastewater treatment plant

2012 Acadian Festival Evangeline Queen Caroline Antoinette “Annette” Stassi is presented with a proclamation by Plaquemine City Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta and Board of Selectman Ralph Stassi, her grandfather, at the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. 
COURTESY PHOTO/Lenora Crawford

The Plaquemine Board of Selectmen voted to adopt an ordinance authorizing the issuance of sales tax bonds in the amount of $8 million for public projects.

Bond council Jason Akers of Foley and Judell said the final formal step of advertising would come in December. Akers also said the bonds would be borrowed from the revolving loan fund with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Professional Engineering Consultants' Tony Arikol said the city plans on the building a new wastewater treatment plant to replace the existing one.

"The old one is 50 years old and it is time to replace it," Arikol said. "It is too small. The biggest hurdle is all of these environmental clearances."

Arikol said the whole program will cost $12 million but the city will receive $6 million from the Louisiana Recovery Authority for the project.

The transition of the existing plant into a pump station, the construction of the new plant, an addition of a backup transformer and the upgrading of the electrical lines to the plant are the four projects associated with the wastewater program, according to Arikol.

In other news the board voted to condemn and advertise for demolition a property located at 23810 Oak St.

"If they picked up the letter, why should I hire an attorney for them," Mayor Mark "Tony" Gulotta said.

The board also voted to board up the property at 58529 Meriam St.

"It really disturbs me when people rent a property like this," Selectman Oscar S. Mellion said. "It is deplorable."

"They are showing a total disrespect for improvement we are trying to do in Plaquemine," Selectman Lindon A. Rivet said.

Two other condemnation hearings were given 30-day extensions including the property at 58660 W. Harleaux St. while three more properties' conditions were discussed located on Kearney Street.

"There has been nothing done to this property," Mellion said. "Not one effort to redo anything."

"If they don't care about their property, why should we," added Selectman Timothy L. Martinez. "We have done everything we can with these properties."

The board also adopted a resolution accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana as its health insurance carrier for city employees despite a $100,000 increase after being denied by every other insurance company sought, according to Gulotta.

"We are going to have to find a different insurance," Gulotta said "People need to understand what healthcare costs. It is a major drain on city resources. I just don't have an answer. We are going to have to cut employees to cover insurance."

The board also voted to accept bids on all but one of five surplus properties before tabling the declaration of four more.

"I was really surprised we got as many bids as we did," Gulotta said. "I say let's sell them all."

City inspector Brandon Mellieon also reported 68 abandoned vehicles throughout the town and was asked to return with descriptions of the vehicles before letters are send out to landowners.

"That letter needs to state we are going to pick these cars up and crush them," Gulotta said.

Selectman Jimmie Randle also stated concern about crime in his district following the shooting death of a teenager recently.

"It is turning into a real drug alley," Randle said. "We need to get to running them off the street again."

"It is not hard to tell where it is at," Mellion added. "I don't know what it is going to take to clean it up."

In closing, Rivet asked about the progress of a tire ordinance directed at a single dealer to which Mellieon questioned why it was being singled out among others.

"I want a meeting with you after," Rivet said. "I don't want you sitting up there and arguing with me."

"We passed the ordinance and I want it enforced," Gulotta added.

The board also discussed the status of the La. 1 overlay and 18-wheeler routes within the city limits and approved alcohol beverage permits for numerous businesses.

"La. 1 through the city is the worst," Gulotta said. "During grinding season, 300 extra trucks a day are going through this city."

2012 Acadian Festival Evangeline Queen Caroline Antoinette "Annette" Stassi was also presented a proclamation of congratulations and Jaqual Peterson, a Plaquemine High School student in the People to People Ambassador Programs, was introduced.