Pointe Coupee moves to provide billing for parish services in New Roads

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury will ask New Roads to hand over a complete list of the city’s utility customers so the parish can begin billing residents for monthly drainage and mosquito abatement fees.

The jury unanimously adopted the resolution Tuesday after receiving a letter, dated Oct. 16, from New Roads Mayor Robert Myer.

The letter informed the Police Jury the city would cease collecting the parish’s $2.50 per month drainage fee at the end of the month. Jurors Allen Monk and Albert Dukes were absent from the Tuesday meeting.

Myer previously characterized the drainage fee as a money grab for the parish and said he wants to stop collecting the fee because the parish failed to show what it would do with the annual revenue the fee generates.

The Police Jury adopted the $2.50 per month fee in March on a 2-year basis to address an annual deficit in its drainage fund and to give the jury the ability to continue drainage work throughout the parish.

Several jurors suggested the parish start billing New Roads customers for its $2.50 mosquito abatement fee as well since the city has already expressed interest in pulling out of the parish’s contract for trash service.

“This division is just not good,” Jury President Melanie Bueche said Tuesday night. “(The mayor) is trying to make it hard for us. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

The parish’s ongoing clash with New Roads spilled into a separate agenda item during Tuesday’s night meeting when Parish Administrator Jim Bello presented the Police Jury with another letter from Myer, also dated Oct. 16, confirming the city’s intention to opt out of the parish’s pending five-year agreement for residential trash service with Progressive Waste Solutions.

In the letter, Myer wrote the city will take the next 30 to 60 days to seek out its own garbage contract through the bidding process. Myer also has expressed interest in the city implementing its own residential trash service, Bello added.

Parish officials are worried New Roads’s exit from their pending agreement with Progressive could cause user rates to spike for the rest of the parish’s residents since Pointe Coupee’s service charges from Progressive were based on a nearly 10,000 parishwide household count that included approximately 1,800 homes in New Roads.

“Should constituents have to suffer because the mayor is not getting along with the parish?” Juror Cornell Dukes asked Tuesday night. “I feel like we should challenge this. For them to be able to breakaway ...it’s setting the (city) up for failure and preventing us from being able to do business.”

Dukes tried to have the meeting’s agenda amended so that the Police Jury could entertain a vote on a resolution asking for an opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office about the issue.

Dukes’ attempt failed because it couldn’t get the unanimous support from the Police Jury.

Juror Glenn Ray Cline, the lone dissenting vote, told Dukes he voted against amending the meeting’s agenda because Dukes had no idea what would happen if New Roads could broker its own trash deal.

“They may get something cheaper than our price,” Cline said.

“I doubt that,” Dukes retorted.

Dukes said he will re-introduce his recommendation at the jury next regular meeting in November.