City accepts bid for gas line repair

Peter Silas Pasqua

The City Council awarded a contract to repair leaky natural gas lines downtown to Tullier Services LLC in the amount of $804,625 upon the recommendation of the low bid by Lynn Chance of the engineering firm Glen G. Shaheen & Associates Inc. for the $1.3 million project at its regular meeting Tuesday. 

Chance said repairs to Chetimatches, Lessard and St. Patrick Streets are contingent upon the approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and could begin within 30-60 days.

Earlier the council passed an ordinance to authorize the issuance of $1.3 million in municipal bonds to fund the project.

Financial consultant Steve Nosacka of Trinity Capital said the USDA's Community Facility Program is financing the job over 30 years at 4.5 percent.

Councilman Raymond Aucoin said interest will be rolled into permanent financing and that increased profits from the repair will be projected into the first installment.

"This is going to take us as far as we need to go," Aucoin said. "I imagine it will take a year to see a difference in the savings."

In another matter, the council tabled a resolution calling for a municipal half-cent tax until its next meeting July 8 where it will go before a public hearing.

John Rodgers, executive director of the city's Downtown Development District warned that the election had to be authorized immediately and the a cap on sales tax will be placed if another tax is approved.

Rodgers' proposal is expected to bring in $450,000 annually which would be used for capital outlay, a multipurpose community center, riverfront development and downtown development's operational activities and building revitalization.

City Attorney Chuck Long said the resolution has to be presented the state bond commission by July 14 to be placed on the ballot and that the Ascension Parish Council is also considering a sales tax proposal.

Bond counsel Jerry Osbourne said the proposal is restrictive and can be rededicated by vote of the council. 

"This sales tax will be around for hopefully a number of years," Osbourne said. 

Sullivan questioned the renewal of an intergovernmental agreement with the Parish Council concerning a benchmark on sales tax that goes to the city before being split at the annexed property where the Wal-Mart Supercenter is located.

"They can get it all," Aucoin said. "They don't have to give us any of it."

Parish councilman Oliver Joseph noted a recent agreement with the city of Gonzales deleted the benchmark.

"That is the way they are going to play it," Sullivan said.

In other news, the council rejected a bid by Ramm Plumbing LLC to renovate the Central Agricultural Schoolhouse, which is to be used to house the River Road African American Museum.

Sullivan said Ramm Plumbling's bid of $700,000 was over budget and no performance bond was included in the packet.

Councilman Charles Brown inquired to reopen the bid.

"We need to find out what direction they want to go with the project before we reopen the bid," Sullivan said.

The council also:

-passed ordinance amending the 2007-08 operating budget.

-passed ordinance providing the 2008-09 operating budget.

-approved a liquor license for the July 3 Celebration.

-approved a liquor license for the ASAP Riders July 4 event.

-renewed a contract with Fire District No. 2 in the amount of $170,000.

-learned from SWDI spokesman Daniel Naquin that the garbage disposal company is under compensated by $200,000.

-met in executive session concerning the City of Donaldsonville vs. 100 Second Street Corp.