BP Oil Spill money going to flood protection in St. Charles Parish

St. Charles Parish’s share of the BP and Transocean settlements from the Deep Water Horizon disaster may not be large, but plans are to leverage those dollars into millions for flood protection.

The parish’s share of the $1 billion Transocean is paying in penalties is $232,587, while it’s share of the BP $5.5 billion settlement with the federal government is an estimated $1.3 million, said Holly Fonseca, the parish’s grants officer.

Additional funding secured competively from the Parish Matching Program established by the state would be combined with these funds to build part of the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee, an amount not yet determined.

Applications are being submitted now for the parish’s share of these funds, but Fonseca said the process will take time. “It’ll be a slow moving process,” she said. “It’ll be over several years and BP monies won’t start until 2017.”

The BP portion of these funds will be paid in installments over 15 years.

“It’s just another piece of the funding puzzle that’s important for us to continue to build the flood infrastructure to protect the residents of our parish,” Fonseca said. “It will be done in conjunction with the millage residents voted for in May to continue construction on these improvements.”

It’s the money that parish officials outlined in town meetings that won voter support for a 4-mill property tax for 30 years dedicated to building the hurricane protection levee.

At May town meetings held to pitch the proposal to the public, parish Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe told voters that federal dollars have dried up for the remaining western portion of the levee, requiring local dollars for construction rather than relying on “hopes and prayers.”

Boe said they will leverage tax revenue, a projected $4.8 million a year for 30 years, by issuing an estimated $157 million or more through bonds and grants.

The tax increase was actually 3.6 mills in new tax with the difference from a .4-mill reduction in an existing road millage.

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