A state panel tasked with approving funding emergencies reviewed $2.1 million in requests Tuesday.
In less than an hour, the Interim Emergency Board whittled down the list to $746,684 after determining some of the requests did not rise to the level of an emergency.
Legislators will vote through a mail ballot on the board’s recommendations.
The board approved:
- $350,000 to replace pipes at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
- $396,684 to replace the roof and repair walls at Northwestern State University’s Nursing Education building in Shreveport.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe sought $1.5 million to correct problems in George T. Walker Hall.
John L. Davis, director of the Jindal administration’s Office of Facility Planning and Control, said the university wants to replace the building’s heating and air conditioning system.
He said a fire destroyed part of the system in June. Insurance will cover some of the expense.
Davis said the argument could be made that the uninsured portion of the project should be funded through the state’s construction budget.
The Interim Emergency Board oversees $21.7 million available for emergencies.
However, Davis said, it makes sense to replace the piping while the walls are open to repair the fire damage. All but $350,000 of the $1.5 million request for state funding would be an upgrade and should not be approved, he said.
Davis said an argument also could be made that Northwestern State should go through the construction, or capital outlay, process instead of seeking emergency funds to replace a roof. He said the building’s occupants are being affected by water intrusion.
Interim Legislative Fiscal Officer John Carpenter said universities need to make roof repairs instead of letting the damage accumulate to the point of requiring a new roof.
The board approved Northwestern State’s new roof but rejected a request from Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government for $231,479 to install culverts.
Terrebonne wanted the money to address severe flooding of more than 65 homes and businesses in the Broadmoor and Lisa Park areas of Houma. In exchange for putting up $100,000, the parish wanted the state to pay $231,479.
Davis said he would consider the request an emergency if a culvert had been washed out. Instead, he said, the parish wants the money to add culverts to prevent future flooding.
“Water likes to come to Louisiana. It feels like it’s home when it gets here,” he said.
The governor’s chief of staff, Paul Rainwater, said the project might qualify for storm recovery money.
He said the state has leftover dollars earmarked for drainage projects.
State Sen. Brett Allain, R-Jeanerette, rose from his seat in the audience and asked to address the panel.
“My only question is the timing,” Allain said. “It’s real flooding.”
Allain said he is concerned the money will not materialize before the spring rains arrive.
Rainwater assured him that the dollars should come through quicker than they would in the construction budget process.
“That sounds good,” Allain told him.