Ascension will lobby against flood insurance rate hike

An Ascension Parish councilman is heading to Washington, D.C., next week to lobby against an increase of premium rates for National Flood Insurance Program policyholders.

Councilman Randy Clouatre plans to meet with members of the state’s congressional delegation to ask them to hold off any changes to the program, which would have a major impact on south Louisiana, parish officials said.

Legislation was signed into law last summer to help revamp the cash-strapped insurance program, which could see some policyholders’ rates increased by up to 25 percent during the next five years.

The Parish Council approved a resolution for Clouatre to take with him asking Congress not to increase any insurance rates.

Councilman Kent Schexnaydre said the new policy would remove any grandfathering provisions for people who build homes out of current floodplains if those measurements change in the future.

The change could “substantially increase your flood insurance and get to the point for some people where it would be cost prohibitive,” Schexnaydre said.

Clouatre said there are between 19 and 23 parishes in the state that will be affected by the change, while Parish President Tommy Martinez said it would affect many people in the parish.

“I’m not quite sure, but I would say about 33 percent of our parish would be affected if this passes,” Martinez said. “We need to make sure we do everything possible that we can to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Other action taken by the council included:

LAND SWAP: The council unanimously approved a land swap with the city of Donaldsonville that will pave the way for construction of a new Fire Department facility in Donaldsonville and a new parish Department of Public Works building on the west bank of the parish.

The city gave the parish a 5-acre tract, while the parish, in turn, swapped a 2.92-acre parcel of property with the city.

Parish Attorney O’Neil Parenton told Parish Council members that the Donaldsonville City Council already had approved of the land swap.

Councilman Oliver Joseph, who represents the west bank, thanked the parish and city administrations for making the deal happen.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, but a compromise came through. I want to thank the parish president that we’re finally going to have a new DPW building on the west bank. Those workers deserve that.”