Iberia Parish levee board disappointed
NEW IBERIA — Iberia Parish President Errol Romero vetoed a resolution which would have allowed residents to vote on the rededication of 1.75 mills to help pay for a hurricane protection system.
The resolution would have allowed voters to decide whether to move 1.75 mills out of the 6 mills collected by the parish library system and use it to pay for a 26-mile levee around the coastline.
The chairman of the Iberia Parish Levee, Hurricane and Conservation District, Ronald Gonsoulin, released a statement disagreeing with Romero’s veto.
“We would like to express our disappointment with your decision to veto the resolution,” Gonsoulin statement read.
“We believed your administration understood the urgency and necessity of a flood protection and coastline conservation system and its importance to Iberia Parish.”
Gonsoulin said the levee board would continue to search for funding for the levee.
“This board will continue to work to achieve the legislative mandate of our Levee and Conservation District’s creation, which is to provide hurricane storm surge protection for the people of Iberia Parish,” he said.
He said without a hurricane storm protection system, “Iberia Parish cannot survive as a growing, dynamic community.”
The Iberia Parish library is allocated 6 mills but uses only 4.5 mills.
In the spring, voters rejected a 5-mill property tax and a half-cent sales tax to pay for the 26-mile levee along the parish’s coastal border to protect against tidal surges. The property tax failed by 12 votes and the half-cent sales tax failed by 207 votes.
The Parish Council voted 9-4 on Sept. 11 to hold an election to decide how the unused mills would be allocated.
Councilman David Ditch has proposed dedicating all or a portion of the unused mills to fund projects from the levee district.
“It’s a shame the parish president did what he did,” Ditch said. “I’d like to see something done for coastal protection.”
Ditch said that people who live near the coast will be upset once they start getting their insurance bills.
“Those people who live in flood areas now won’t have a chance to re-vote on the issue,” Ditch said. “The public will demand it once they start getting their new insurance rates.”
Ditch said the levee issue “is not dead, yet,” and said he fully expects the levee board to come up with a new plan.
Romero was not immediately available for comment.