OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to introduce an ordinance to create an advisory board for the parish airport northwest of Opelousas.
Parish President Bill Fontenot said the board will have no voting power in matters concerning the airport facility.
“It will be only advice,” he said.
In July, the council approved an ordinance to establish a parish airport commission, but Fontenot vetoed that decision.
Following that veto, the council voted to create the airport advisory board, whose nine members will be appointed and serve staggered terms of three and four years.
According to the proposed ordinance, the advisory board will meet at least once every 90 days, but will not be paid for attendance.
The prospective ordinance initially included a $60 per diem for every meeting the advisory board members attend, but in a separate vote Wednesday night, the council voted to exclude that payment.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
PUBLIC BIDS: The council, in a 7-4 vote with an abstention, failed to override Fontenot’s veto of a council ordinance that established a new procedure for opening public bids.
The ordinance required bid openings to be limited to council meetings.
Fontenot disagreed with the council’s decision and vetoed the ordinance last month.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Fontenot explained his reasons for a veto.
The parish president said the opening of all bids is performed in the parish courthouse and the time and date of all bid openings are announced in the Opelousas Daily World, the council’s legal journal.
“To do it here (at a council meeting) is to delay the people’s work. State law requires that bids should be done with the public’s view. Bids are being opened now in the biggest office in the courthouse. You can come too,” Fontenot told the council.
Council member Pam Gautreau, who voted to override the veto, said opening bids at council meetings would support Fontenot’s inauguration pledge in January to provide more transparency in parish government.
“We are not trying to usurp your authority, Mr. Fontenot,” Gautreau told Fontenot.
Gautreau, Gary Courville, Timothy LeJeune and Jimmie Edwards voted to override the veto.
Voting against overriding the veto were Dexter Brown, Jerry Red Jr., Leon Robinson, Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Huet Dupre, Hurlin Dupre and Alvin Stelly.
Ronald Buschel abstained.
PROPERTY TAX: The council voted unanimously to uphold the annual property tax assessment of PBGS, a salt tavern off U.S. 190, east of Port Barre, where natural gas is stored.
Spectra is contesting the 15 percent rate at which the company is being taxed, said Cheryl Kornick, an attorney representing PBGS and Spectra, which owns PBGS.
Kornick said Spectra considers the salt tavern as a property that is under improvement.
It is Spectra’s opinion the company should pay a 10 percent property tax, she said.
St. Landry Parish Tax Assessor Rhyn Duplechin said the amount contested by Spectra is $500,000. Duplechin said the market value of the property is $242 million and PBGS pays $4.3 million in property taxes.