Superintendent presents capital improvement plans

Scott J. Anderson
Ascension Schools Superintendent David Alexander

The Gonzales City Council heard a presentation Monday night from Ascension Schools Superintendent David Alexander about the district’s plan if voters extend an existing 15.08 mills to fund construction projects and improvements across the district.

The plans include a new high school in Prairieville, a makeover for East Ascension High School, renovations at Gonzales Middle School, security upgrades and resurfacing the district’s high some of the district’s athletic fields, among other projects.

The future is now,” Alexander said at the meeting.

The total cost of all of construction projects in the 2020 bond proposal is $140 million. It would be done without increasing the millage rates.

Council members also voted to send proposed changes to the city’s planning and zoning ordinances back to the planning commission for another public hearing. The changes would allow the city administrator and the mayor to grant final approval to proposed developments.

The council and city residents in attendance Monday night expressed concern about the opportunity for the public to grant its input on the proposed changes.

What concerns me is that there has been zero public input,” Gonzales resident Brenda Robert said. Robert said she was planning to attend the planning and zoning commission meeting July 6, when the proposed changes were approved. Flooding in the area prevented her from attending that night.

After some discussion, the council sent the proposed changes back to the planning commission so another public hearing could be scheduled.

Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said at the end of the city council meeting that he joined other parish officials on an Office of Emergency Preparedness call where questions were raised regarding Gov. John Bel Edwards mandatory mask mandate that went into effect this week. He said a first offense likely will receive a verbal warning. A second offense will result in a warning ticket, and a third will result in a citation and a fine.

In other action, the council:

Unanimously adopted a resolution to approve Borne Technologies for participation in the Industrial Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Program.

Adopted a resolution to approve the mayor sign an application for a loan in the amount of $8.5 million from USDA Rural Development in the name of the city pledging the 2 percent Hotel Occupancy Tax as the basis of repayment for the land acquisition, design and construction of the Price LeBlanc PACE Center.

Entered into public record theAnnouncement of a Public Hearing and Public Meeting to be held on August 24, 2020 to consider levying additional or increased millage rates without further voter approval or adopting the adjusted millage rates after reassessment and rolling forward to rates not to exceed the prior years maximum on property within the City of Gonzales subject to Ad Valorem Taxation for the year 2020. The estimated amount of tax revenues to be collected in the next year from the increased millage is $1,288,714 and the amount of increase in taxes attributable to the millage increase is $28,063.