Pointe Coupee jury votes on drainage fee

NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury voted Tuesday night to impose a $2.50 drainage and maintenance fee on parish residents, but whether it actually passed won’t be clear until the jury’s next meeting.

That’s because the jury’s attorney, John Wayne Jewell, said he will have to consult with another lawyer to determine
if parishwide ordinances require the vote of a seven-
member majority of the 12-member Police Jury for ratification.

The jury voted 6-4 Tuesday night, with two members absent, in favor of the drainage fee.

Jurors Justin Cox, Albert Dukes, Allen Monk and Cornell Dukes voted against the ordinance. John Pourciau and Kurt Jarreau were absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.

Jury President Melanie Bueche originally asked the jury to approve a $5 fee to ward off the looming $600,000 annual shortfall in its $1.2 million drainage fund.

The $5 a month fee would generate about $525,000 annually.

The drainage fee ordinance was formally introduced to the jury at its Dec. 11 meeting and a public hearing was held Jan. 8. After the fee proposal received a lukewarm reception from a majority of jurors in January, it was tabled.

But later that month, the Finance Committee compromised by cutting the fee to $2.50 and imposing it on a temporary basis while voters would be asked to approve a tax increase as a more-permanent solution.

“This is going to be devastating if it doesn’t pass,” Bueche said Tuesday night.

Jewell is expected to report to the jury Jan. 26 with his legal determination on the jury’s vote.

COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: Cox asked the jury Tuesday to re-evaluate the way committee assignments are handed down from the president.

Cox’s request comes after he said he was unfairly removed as chairman of the Personnel Committee in January.

“I was taken off because I said you had some shortcomings,” Cox said to Bueche during the meeting. “In private entities, people have whistleblower protection.”

Cox told the jury he believed chairmanships of committees should be based on “life experience” and career background.

Albert Dukes asked Bueche what criteria she used in assigning jurors onto various committees.

She replied, “I’ll do that at another time.”

AGENDA ITEMS: The jury voted 8-2 to change the process by which items are placed on the agenda for its regular meetings so they can be reviewed by Jewell.

Proposed measures will now have to be submitted by 3 p.m. on the Tuesdays before the Police Jury’s twice-monthly meetings.

Cox asked the jury to approve the measure so that the jury’s attorney could review agenda items “ahead of schedule” to ensure the items up for the jury’s consideration are in compliance with parish and state law.