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Letter: Be informed about drainage district consolidation

I read with interest the article appearing in The Daily Review on Tuesday, Feb. 4 where [Parish President David] Hanagriff appeared before SMIG outlining his plan for consolidation in the Parish. While I am in general in agreement with SMIG’s long-standing position that the Parish’s districts, com-missions, and boards have gotten out of hand, I disagree with the currently proposed so-called consolidation involving Consolidated Gravity Drain-age District #2 and Gravity Drainage District #6.
There is a proposed Ordi nance coming before the Parish Council on Tuesday, Feb. 11. I urge everyone, especially those living in Morgan City and Siracusa (Consolidated Gravity Drain-age District #2) and Amelia (Gravity Drainage District #6), to look closely at what this proposed Ordinance says. Contrary to what keeps being said by the Parish, that “consolidation just makes sense,” I propose that in certain instances, that could not be farther from the truth. Let’s look at some of the facts.
As stated in the above-referenced article, “Consoli-dating the districts would eliminate some separate board positions and other administrative costs while combining the resources needed to do the work of drainage improvement, he said (Mr. Hanagriff).” According to the proposed Ordinance (Section 5) CGDD2 and GDD6 shall continue in existence. This ordinance will create a THIRD board which will oversee the existing TWO boards and will “take any and all actions required by the Act ... in order to secure, account for, and allocate all funds collected...by the District, including but not limited to maintaining appropriate accounting records for the District.” Reading these two statements seems to me to be completely contradictory to each other. Instead of 2 boards, we’ll now have 3. Administrative functions will move where? What happens to the employees of each existing district? Is this where the economies are supposed to come into play? District 2 currently has 1 full-time administrator who handles HR, payroll, receivables, payables, filing, audits, compliance issues, and daily contact with bonding agents, legal, CPRA, board members, employees, and myriad other people and agencies. It has two fulltime maintenance people and 17 part-time pumpers, 2 as-signed to each station as needed, and a Lead Pumper. District 6 has two contract laborers to handle secretarial and maintenance duties.
I admit, I don’t know much about how District 6 operates. Living in and having a business in Morgan City, my focus is on District 2. If this proposed Ordinance passes, Mr. Hanagriff has indicated that the money will shift into the hands of the Parish, and “they” will handle accounting functions, payroll, and HR. What person already working for the Parish at the court-house has enough time to take over all this work? The Parish would need to hire at least one person if not two to do the job that is currently being performed very well by the District 2 administrative assistant. How would that save “us” money? How would that scenario be more efficient? On top of that, the Parish would then turn around and bill the districts for the cost of processing all that work! I would wager that would end up costing us the taxpayers of District 2 much more than what is currently being spent by the district.
State law says that taxing districts having outstanding debt cannot be combined/consolidated as far as their funding goes. Hence, the proposed creation of the 3rd “governing” consolidated Board 2A. In essence, the debt must remain within the district that voted for it. District 2 has outstanding debt in the form of bonds equaling $11.57 million. This District 2 Board and
Administrator in my opinion has done a tremendous job over the past six years. They now have written policies and procedures (which did not exist prior and which still don’t exist for many of our Parish boards). They’ve actually reduced our debt through refinancing of the bonds and also reduced our millages. They’ve been improving and upgrading our pumping stations, drainage ditches, and working with the Levee District to build the FEMA required levees which will allow all of us to be able to afford flood insurance. They are also in the process of building a newpumping station.
What good will come from “consolidating” District 2 with District 6? If the answer hinges around the fact that District 6 needs help, then provide help and support to District 6 and leave District 2 alone. CGDD2 is operating lean and mean and getting the job done. That job is too
important to everyone who lives in Morgan City and Siracusa. I urge everyone to take an interest in what’s happening, talk to your Parish Council mem-bers, talk to members of the Drainage District. Get informed. Drainage District 2 does NOT need to be “consolidated,” and in fact, I believe that would prove a detriment to the taxpaying citizens of this district both monetarily and functionally.
The Parish Council will vote on this proposed Ordinance Tuesday night, Feb. 11. The Public Meeting to discuss concerns will be held prior to the meeting at 5:45 pm. Please weigh in on this
important issue. The Parish Council needs to hear from its citizens!
Deborah Price
Morgan City

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