VACHERIE — The nine members of the St. James Parish Planning Commission, a group helping plan the parish’s future growth, will have to wait until at least July to find out if they will receive a raise after the Parish Council tabled the topic Wednesday.
Planning commission members are paid a per diem of $40 for each meeting they attend, but a proposal in the works would increase that amount to $80 a meeting and remove a restriction in the ordinance prohibiting each member from attending more than 15 meetings per year.
With last year’s approval of the parish’s land use plan, a complex document directing the parish’s growth and development, more issues have been brought before the Planning Commission, said Ryan Donadieu, a supervisor with the parish Planning and Permitting Department.
Planning Commission meetings now last hours instead of the 15 minutes they used to take, Donadieu said.
But several Parish Council members requested more time to examine the issue.
Councilman Jimmy Brazan said the Planning Commission has faced an increased level of liability because of possible lawsuits brought by rejected corporations or developers, as a result of the parish’s new land use plan.
“This board was put right in the middle of this battle,” Brazan said.
Brazan said he is unsure if a raise would be the best way to move the Planning Commission forward in light of this issue.
Councilman Terry McCreary asked if the Parish Council could research what other parish board and committee members are paid.
The Parish Council then voted 6-0 to table the topic for three months until council members could discuss the matter further.
In other business, the Parish Council authorized Parish President Timmy Roussel to advertise and take bids to replace an aging raw water intake pump system in Convent.
The existing pumping station at the East Bank Water Treatment Plant has limited capacity and needs to be upgraded to fit the future water demands of the parish, according to the resolution.
Water from the Mississippi River is pumped to the Convent treatment center and to another treatment center in Vacherie and then sent along 160 miles of pipelines throughout the parish, according to the parish’s Department of Public Works.
The Delta Regional Authority has awarded the parish $200,000 to build the pump system, Roussel said.
The parish has made several upgrades and expansions at the water treatment plant in Convent, but the grant will help complete one of the project’s final phases — that of replacing the current raw water intake structure, which was built in the 1960s, said Melissa Wilkins, parish spokeswoman.