LIVINGSTON — After a lengthy and vigorous debate, the Livingston Parish Council voted unanimously Thursday to add another million dollars to the parish’s ongoing road overlay program.
Which roads will get the extra funds has not been decided yet.
Parish President Layton Ricks, who was not present for Thursday’s meeting, previously announced the availability of the extra funds and suggested they be dedicated to the $4.5 million overlay program, which began this spring and is slated to conclude in November.
Goff’s compromise motion Thursday to split the $1 million equally between the Juban extension and the overlay projects failed on a 5-4 vote.
Before joining a later vote to dedicate the full $1 million to the overlay work, Goff said he believes the parish has more funding available that has not been earmarked for a particular project.
Chairman Chance Parent said he was confident the council could dedicate funds to the Juban project during the budgeting process, which should begin next month.
Councilwoman Joan Landry said Goff appeared to be trying to “hogtie” the parish president into funding Goff’s pet project at the expense of the parishwide overlay program.
“While we have the equipment here and while we’ve got the contractor here, I’d like to use this million to finish these roads that need to be finished, rather than putting it on a road that doesn’t even exist yet,” Landry said. “We’ve got people yelling at us, ‘I want my roads fixed. I want my roads fixed.’ ”
Councilwoman Cindy Wale Franz said the council also has people screaming at them because they’re sitting in traffic every day.
“This is something we’ve never done as a parish. We don’t plan,” Franz said. “This is a perfect opportunity to do that.”
Councilman Jim Norred suggested splitting the funding evenly between the competing projects, but Councilman Delos Blackwell said a large chunk of the overlay dollars could get eaten up by the contractor’s mobilization costs, leaving less money for actual roadwork.
“We’re only talking 8 to 10 weeks to finish this road program,” Blackwell told Goff. “Let’s get this out of the way, and then we can focus on what you’re talking about.”
Goff said he was asking for only a two-week delay in dedicating additional funds to the overlay project. In that time, he said, the council members could comb through the budget to find whatever extra dollars might be available, beyond the $1 million Ricks suggested. Meanwhile, dedicating funds for right-of-way acquisition on the Juban project would allow the appraisals process to move forward, he said.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, or call her at (225) 336-6981.