St. Charles Parish Councilman Clayton Faucheux says the parish has no other choice - it must appropriate $20 million of its preliminary $90 million budget for fiscal 2007 to continue the construction of levees on the west bank.
That’s because the Army Corps of Engineers has refused to make the unfinished 12-mile levee part of the federal flood protection system. If they did, the feds would foot the bill. As it stands, the parish will have to pay for it with local money.
“Everyone is working hard on this, but the issue is that we do not have a federally authorized project,” said Faucheux.
At the first of three budget hearings for 2007, council members stood behind Parish President Albert Laque’s plan to use $11 million from the parish’s cash reserves to “jump start” the next phase of the west bank levee system.
Laque wants to borrow the remaining $9 million and use proceeds from a 1-cent sales tax designated for roads and drainage to pay back the bonds.
“This project is of extreme importance to the west bank of our parish,” Laque said in his budget message.
“Even though its total funding is far beyond the capacity of our parish, we must continue to work for permitting and construction.”
St. Charles Parish Public Works Director Greg Bush says that the pricey proposal is necessary in order to fund a Paradis Canal pump station and also to embed water-control structures into the levee, allowing water to drain into the wetlands.
When complete, the west bank levee will stand 7-feet tall - that’s 5 feet lower than the 12-foot levees financed by the federal government.
The council also supported a $300,000 outlay for Dunleith Canal shore repairs in Destrehan, and an additional $300,000 expenditure dedicated to a land-use plan.
The next two meetings scheduled for Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 will zero in on the budgets for the sheriff’s office, coroner’s office, the volunteer fire departments and the Council on Aging