Hammond City Council OKs seeking bonds for sewer work

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that puts the city on a path to issue $5 million in bonds to upgrade the sewer system in one of the city’s oldest sections.

If approved by the state Bond Commission, Mayor Mayson Foster said, the money raised through the bond issue will be used to upgrade the sewer system in the area bounded by the Canadian Northern Railroad to the west and the city limits to the east. Foster said that was the first section of Hammond to have a sewer system installed.

Bond Attorney Grant Schlueter, of Foley & Judell of New Orleans, told the council that the $5 million in bonds would be sought through the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Interest on the bonds would be less than one percent, Schlueter said, and the money will be paid back by customer sewer user fees.

Duration of the repayment schedule is 20 years, Foster said.

Foster said the sewer upgrades will address a problem with rain water “inflow and infiltration” into the old sewer lines.

The mayor said the completed sewer upgrades could help with the periodic problem of foul odors emanating from the city’s main sewage settlement plant.

The council also agreed on Tuesday to introduce and set for public hearing amendments to the city’s policy and procedures manual that relate to pay policies in civil emergencies.

Foster said there were differences of opinion during Hurricane Isaac about how to compensate city personnel during the time of an emergency. Foster said Personnel Director Loretta Severain worked with him to draw up the new policy.

The new policy, if approved, would give the mayor authority to declare an emergency and to set the beginning and end period of the emergency. Policemen, firemen, department heads, public services workers and communications system personnel would be called to duty.

Foster said those workers would be paid at twice their regular hourly rate of pay and, if they accumulated overtime, would be paid two-and-a-half times their regular pay.

City employees not considered essential workers during a declared emergency would not receive holiday pay, Foster said. If employees do report for work they would be paid their regular hourly rate.

The plan will now be submitted to the city’s Civil Service Board for its review before being offered for final adoption by the council.