OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council failed Wednesday night to override Parish President Bill Fontenot’s veto of a council measure to re-establish a commission that oversees the operation of the parish airport.
Following the vote, the council unanimously agreed to consider creating an advisory board to make recommendations on airport operations and issues, although it would have no formal authority over the parish airport.
Council Chairman Wayne Ardoin said the advisory board issue will be discussed at a council committee meeting in August
The vote to override Fontenot’s veto was 6-6, falling short of the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.
The council voted in June to form a council-appointed airport commission that would decide issues affecting the facility northwest of Opelousas.
At that meeting, some council members said a new commission was needed, since some capital outlay projects that include the construction of a $57,000 hangar, were completed at the airport without the council’s knowledge.
The hangar project also was questioned in a June internal annual audit report by auditor Steven Moosa, of the accounting firm of Darnall, Sikes, Gardes and Frederick.
Fontenot said in his veto message that an airport commission would “usurp” the powers of the executive branch of parish government and inhibit “the effective operation of the airport.”
The council dissolved the Airport Commission in 2010 after another audit report by Moosa indicated equipment at the facility had been sold without obtaining proposals or bids.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Ardoin delivered the council’s response to Fontenot’s veto.
Ardoin said the parish Home Rule Charter gives the council authority to appoint and reorganize all boards and commissions.
Voting to override Fontenot’s veto were Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Huet Dupre, Gary Courville, Timothy LeJeune, Pam Gautreau and Ronald Buschel.
Those voting “no” were Jerry Red Jr., Leon Robinson, Dexter Brown, Hurlin Dupre, Alvin Stelly and Jimmie Edwards.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the Opelousas Board of Aldermen to provide road equipment and manpower to repair an 800-foot stretch of road in front of the J.S. Clark Leadership Academy, a charter school scheduled to open later this month on Statesman Road.
School officials told the board that Statesman Road is paved, but is in a state of disrepair. School officials have said the school is prepared to provide $31,000 in material costs to fix the road.
The council also voted unanimously to pay about $1,000 for an investigator to assist council attorney Andrea West in a review of how parish government finances were handled during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.
At a special meeting last week, the council voted 7-3 to direct Fontenot to provide West with copies of all the documents she needs to assist in her investigation.
As part of the same vote, the council gave West the authority to file court action requiring Fontenot to provide copies of the documents she needs.
West said before the meeting that if Fontenot does not provide the copies of the documents she needs by next week, she will ask a judge to order him to do so.
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