Drainage Commission approves, sends budgets on to council

Aaron E. Looney

The East Ascension Drainage Commission voted Monday to approve its amended 2008 budget and proposed 2009 budget, sending them to the Ascension Parish Council for final approval.

The 2009 budget, totaling $14.5 million, features projected revenues of $14.4 million and $100,000 coming from the commission’s fund balance to equalize the budget, Drainage General Manager Bill Roux said during Monday’s meeting in the Parish Council chambers.

Roux also said that the department is looking ahead to multiyear budgets, projecting as far as 2013, adding that in future years, the department “is going to have to become more efficient and cut costs.”

“We can’t keep dipping into the fund balance to even out the budget,” Roux said. “Eventually, that’s going to run out. We need to make cuts somewhere.”

Highlights of the proposed budget include spending $21.7 million on construction projects. Funds to cover the work will come from the $64.5 million bond issue passed by parish voters last year.

Five major projects the commission expects to begin work on in 2009 include improvements to the Laurel Ridge Levee, the Marvin J. Braud Pumping Station expansion, the Henderson Bayou pumping station expansion and erecting safe quarters at both the Braud pumping station and the pumping station located in Sorrento.

Roux added that the parish will make drainage improvements to all major waterways in the parish in 2009.

Roux also said that he plans to institute the same across-the-board pay increases to his employees as parish government plans to do in its proposed 2009 budget.

The commission’s budgets, along with the parish government budgets, were scheduled to be introduced during Thursday’s Parish Council meeting in Donaldsonville.

In other matters, the commission voted to contract with Lamendola Construction to repair the steel bulkheads located along Bayou Francois at Hwy. 22 at a cost of $44,575 and for another bulkhead on the opposite side for $46,800.

Roux said the current bulkheads, erected nine years ago, have failed and need replacement.

The commission also voted to enter into separate contracts with Lamendola Construction to remove and replace the Tim Batts Bridge for $38,950, the Ronnie Bourgeois Bridge for $37,025, the Moise Road Bridge for $51,958 and to repair the Huey Diez Bridge at a cost of $4,280.