East Feliciana gas district adopts new work rules

Commissioners of East Feliciana Parish Gas Utility District 2 approved new rules regarding the use of public equipment and materials after several police jurors recently found district employees working on private property.

Greg Phares, chief investigator for the state Office of the Inspector General, confirmed that an investigator and certified public accountant from the agency attended the commissioners’ meeting on Monday.

“We have been asked to look into the activities of the gas district, and we are currently doing so,” Phares said Friday.

Some East Feliciana police jurors were alerted Aug. 8 to gas district employees working on private property to lay natural gas and water lines to a home site on Battle Road.

The jurors attended an Aug. 12 gas district board meeting to discuss their findings, but the board went into executive session and emerged after a few minutes to announce that gas system Manager Michael Bradford had done nothing wrong.

Bradford defended the work, saying the gas crew was helping employees of East Feliciana Rural Water System lay a water line because the water system’s trenching machine had broken down.

Jurors also saw yellow natural gas pipe lying beside the open trench. But Bradford said he had contracted with the landowner to install the gas pipe after normal work hours and repaid the district for the pipe.

The new addition to the gas district’s employee manual says that any other company wanting to use gas district equipment to work on private property will have to rent the equipment elsewhere.

“Gas Utility equipment is only for use on public rights of way and servitudes,” the new rule says.

The gas district’s equipment can be used to assist other companies working in public rights of way, but the board decided against requiring at least three gas commissioners to approve such work before it starts.

“Buying materials through the Gas Utility and reimbursing the Gas Utility should not happen,” another rules says.

“This is a very serious rule in almost every business. Perhaps materials could be delivered to the Gas Utility under a separate bill and paid with a personal payment so it never goes through the Gas Utility at all,” the meeting’s minutes say.

The board also adopted another rule directing employees to make sure district vehicles are not on the site when gas system employees do private work after hours.