AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council will hold a special meeting Oct. 6 to discuss possible solutions to charges brought by the state Department of Environmental Quality about the misuse and improper storing of shredded tire material at the parish landfill near Independence.
The meeting is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex, during which the council will also discuss possibly filing a lawsuit against Environmental Services Inc., the Port Allen tire shredding company that transported the material to the landfill over the past several years, council President David Vial said.
The call for the special meeting came Monday after the council met in executive session with Baton Rouge attorney Beau Brock, who was retained by the council in June when DEQ informed Parish President Gordon Burgess it was investigating the alleged misuse of the tire material at the landfill and in the construction of a firing range at the site that has never been completed.
DEQ also warned that thousands of dollars in fines could be levied against the parish if the shredded tires were not properly disposed of.
At previous meetings, Brock and Harold Leggett, of PPM Consultants, a firm specializing in environmental science and engineering, informed the council they have gathered extensive records of landfill activities. Both have said they feel confident a satisfactory agreement can be reached with DEQ and the matter settled without expensive fines.
Vial and other council members declined to relate what was discussed in Monday’s closed-door session.
Also on Monday, the council agreed to form a committee to study the possibility of expanding Hospital Service District No. 2, which built and maintains Hood Memorial Hospital in Amite.
Property owners in the district pay a 5-mill property tax to support the hospital. Councilman Louis Joseph told the council that hospital administrators want to enlarge the district to tap into more tax revenue for hospital improvements.
Vial named to the committee Joseph and councilmen Greg Varnado and Trent Forrest, who represent the northern end of Tangipahoa Parish, along with Hood Memorial’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Estay and Hospital Administrator Ed Dugar.
Jim Ryan, who advises the council on bond issues, said the Parish Council has the authority to call for an election in the proposed expanded district because the district was created by the Parish Council. He suggested that if the council wants to bring the issue to the voters that it open the election only to those voters in the proposed expanded area. “You don’t want to call an election that includes the current taxing district and the proposed expanded district because if the voters should reject the plan, then the hospital would be left without its current funding source,” Ryan said.