Councilmen seek to trim lobbyist contract

Would narrow it to Washington representation

Amid lingering disagreement among St. Charles Parish Council members over Tauzin Consultants as the parish’s lobbyist came the latest move to trim the firm’s contract.

Councilmen Billy Woodruff and Terrell Wilson co-authored an ordinance to discontinue using the Washington, D.C., based firm on state services, which would reduce the one-year $180,000 contract by $5,000 a month.

At Monday’s council meeting, Woodruff requested and got council approval to table the measure when Wilson could not attend the meeting.

Woodruff did not comment at the meeting and declined to comment until the contract vote, but he earlier questioned the need for a lobbyist.

Wilson also cited the cost for the service, as well as Councilman Paul Hogan earlier asking for regular reports from Tauzin Consultants on its progress.

Tauzin’s current contract with the parish is $60,000 for state services and $120,000 for federal services a year. The contract expires July 31.

Wilson, a longtime council member who has questioned the parish needing a lobbyist and voted against the move at least three times, said he felt the firm was ineffective, particularly on the state level.

Wilson further questioned the firm’s progress on parish concerns.

“This administration has not been able to convince me this firm is doing us any good,” he said.

In one example, Wilson recounted Parish President Larry Cochran telling him the firm was the reason the parish made the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s list of 29 projects receiving a grant from BP disaster funds.

But Wilson maintained it was likely because the parish had shovel-ready projects, not because of Tauzin Consultants.

Last year, the majority of council members supported rehiring the firm, maintaining lobbying efforts were especially important for levee construction and flood insurance.

Cochran maintained the firm’s fee wasn’t “that much money” and was an amount the parish could easily recover in funding.

Wilson recounted how Tauzin approached him at that very same meeting and told him that his firm would “work real hard to prove him wrong.”

But Wilson said, since that time, “They’ve only produced useless reports.”

According to the firm’s February report to the council, its work on flood protection has involved calls to the “Parish Executive Team” to discuss flood protection projects and the White House’s proposed infrastructure plan, and research and options to move the Upper Barataria Risk Reduction project.

St. Charles Parish was Tauzin Consultants’ first client in 2011. Billy Tauzin, a former U.S. representative, started the company.

 

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