6 months, no decision; Council debates permit, flood plan services contract


By Carolyn Roy | News Editor

The question of which company the Parish Council chooses to operate its building permit and flood plan management services remains unanswered following the council meeting Monday. The meeting was conducted via teleconference. The council has bounced back and forth about which company to choose for six months and has yet to make a choice. The agenda item considered only IBTS, a Monroe company that has had the contract for the last three years. Council chairman Chris Paige urged the council to take action to get closure. IBTS agreed to extend its contract until the end of August to provide coverage while the council makes a decision.

This article published in the Aug. 19, 2021, print edition

Rapides Area Planning Commission (RAPC) and IBTS offer about the same services with the main factor of offering staff on call seven days a week with an inspection person based in Natchitoches five days a week. Councilperson John Salter complained of delays to contractors while waiting on permits issued by IBTS. He has also advocated for choosing a local company. Parish President John Richmond conducted a survey using prices listed for several companies and determined IBTS to have the lowest bid.

The main complaint some council members have is that in 2020, of the $229,350 charged for permitting, IBTS received $122,412 while rebating $106,938 to Parish Government. Council member Jim Kilcoyne made a motion to accept IBTS but when no one seconded the motion, it failed.

Parish Government attorney Steven Mansour said the council then had two choices: first, to schedule a special called meeting; or second, to amend the agenda to add considering RAPC. Patsy Ward-Hoover wanted to amend the agenda but Salter said he would vote no. To amend the agenda would have taken a unanimous vote.

Tuesday morning, Council secretary Sheryl Frederick gave notice of a special called meeting Monday, Aug. 30 at 5:30 p.m. to consider awarding the contract. Choices listed are IBTS, RAPC and a third contender, SG Inspections LLC, a local company owned by former Parish Government planning official Greg Lemoine.

In other business, Office of Community Services Director Sharon Harris had a major announcement about receipt of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for supplemental energy. The COA will receive $515,118 to assist in eliminating utility arrears. A household will be eligible for up to a maximum of $1,200 to pay past due balances. The funds will be in addition to other LIHEAP funds for which the household may qualify. Also listed in her report was crisis utility assistance to 16 households totaling $4,830 for 246 people; cooling utility to 144 households/families totaling $65,950; USDA Commodity distribution to 119 households/families; and Food for Seniors to 165 people 60 and older. The next distribution date is Aug. 26.

The Summer Feeding Program had a daily participation of 236 with a total of 5,208 meals obtained for both breakfast and lunch. There were 40 Senior Companion Program volunteers who worked 3,360 hours for $3 per hour. They served 43 clients.

his report, Richmond updated the council on the cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) with a group of residents along Cedar Bend and River View roads. The contractor will install a layer of cold mix asphalt the width of the two roads along 2,500 linear feet. The Parish will provide trucking for the delivery of the cold mix purchased by the residents.

Parish Government will also enter to CEAs with other Good Samaritan projects. They are with Gerry Unruh, River View; Michael Steadman, Craig Loop; Rodney Salard, Marco Road and the end of La. 490; and Johnny Stewart, Montgomery Camp Road.

The council adopted a resolution moving the voting polling place at the St. Augustine Catholic Church to the Cypress polling place for the October election. The Cypress address is 11345 La. Hwy. 1. After the election, the polling place will return to the church.