ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Council voted Monday to allocate funding to replace two parish bridges.
The council unanimously agreed to transfer $100,000 from the parish’s Louisiana Asset Management Pool account to replace the Island Road crossing and an additional $75,000 to replace a bridge on Graham Road.
The existing Island Road bridge will be replaced with an elevated single-lane structure, while the Graham Road bridge will be replaced with a culvert, according to the ordinances. The funding will also provide for a detour road required during construction for Graham Road. The two bridges are among a list of priority recommendations from Public Works Director Jim Ferguson.
Later during the nearly four-hour meeting, in a 4-3 vote, the council rejected an ordinance to reduce the connection fee charged for the Independence sewer system from $2,400 to $250. The one-time fee is required of residential and commercial customers to connect to the parish-operated sewer system that serves the unincorporated Independence area.
Voting to reduce the fee were council members Mel Percy, Leah Williams and Heather Howle, while Otis Wilson, John Kean, Ricky Lambert and Melvin Young opposed the proposed ordinance. Ferguson had explained the reduced fee was closer to the actual cost to the parish of material and labor for the work necessary to make a connection.
After the vote, Parish President Kevin Couhig asked the council, “Why does anyone want to keep it at $2,400? It makes no sense.” Couhig later added, “The choice you’re making is to charge people $2,400 for work that we say can be $250 to hook up.
In other action, the panel agreed to hire New Orleans-based attorney Howard Linzy to provide the parish with legal services regarding issues specific to employment law. The work will be as needed at the established rate of $175 per hour.
Parish Attorney Mike Hughes said Linzy is a recognized employment law expert. “If it weren’t necessary, I wouldn’t suggest you do it,” Hughes told the council.
During his president’s report, Couhig said negotiations are being finalized for a new location that will house the parish’s social services under one roof.
The Food Pantry and Clothes Closet will relocate because the current location, in out buildings on property of the old St. Francisville High School on Pecan Grove, will soon be torn down and the property sold by the parish school board for private development.