Iberville moves forward on St. Gabriel water service project

The Iberville Parish Council adopted an ordinance Thursday night that calls for issuing $600,000 in revenue bonds to pay for construction of a new water service maintenance and utility building in St. Gabriel.

The council voted 8-1 during a special meeting to set a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. June 18 on its proposal to proceed with the project and sell the 10-year bonds.

Councilmen Henry Scott, Hunter Markins and Louis “Pete” Kelley were absent from Thursday’s meeting.

Councilman Howard Oubre, who cast the only dissenting vote, told council members he opposed the ordinance because St. Gabriel’s mayor and police chief never return his phone calls.

“They don’t help me, so I won’t help them,” Oubre said.

St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau said after the meeting he has no idea why Oubre would want to speak to him about public business since Oubre doesn’t serve the St. Gabriel area.

“The item on the agenda tonight was for all of the citizens of the eastern portion of Iberville Parish and was not to benefit the Police Department,” Ambeau said.

“Mr. Oubre needs to put petty politics aside and do what is best for Iberville’s citizens.”

The new complex to be built along La. 30 in St. Gabriel will serve as a billing and service center for the city’s water customers, according to the ordinance.

Parish Chief Administrative Officer Edward “Lucky” Songy told the council the parish had to demolish the previous water service building in 2012 because of structural damage from water and termites.

Songy said plans for the new building are being drafted and the parish expects to start construction later this year.

The council committed itself to building the new complex for St. Gabriel residents in September when parish government absorbed the St. Gabriel water district, which had served more than 2,000 customers.

The council acted after an audit report turned up a number of financial problems during the 2011 fiscal year stemming from alleged actions of former water district employees.