Mayor addresses State of Donaldsonville at Rotary

DERON TALLEY @DeRonTalley

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan, Sr. addressed the state of Donaldsonville at the Rotary Club’s luncheon on Thursday, March 26 at Café Lafourche. Mayor Sullivan talked the good and the bad of what’s been going on and concluded saying there’s nothing he’d rather be doing than being the “mayor of this great city because I love this city.”

Mayor Sullivan first talked economics. He said the city is in the best financial condition it has been in since he’s been the mayor.

“A lot of people may not realize it but when I first became mayor the city was almost broke,” Mayor Sullivan said, now in his third term as mayor. “From the very start, I’ve had a great council and we work well together and we are able to get some things accomplished. We all would love to have more money to do a lot more, but we’re doing a great job with the money we have and working together.”

In the city, the sales tax is up in the city with much credit due to CF Industries’ expansion project bringing in a lot of people. Through January, Mayor Sullivan said, the city has collected just on the two-cent sales tax, $1.6 million and it anticipates collecting another $720,000 over the next four months which would bring the to $2.2 million dollars in the fiscal year.

The half-cent sales tax that passed for roads in 2012 brought in $414,000 and Mayor Sullivan said he anticipates another $200,000 over the next four months, which would bring that to $600,000 collected for the fiscal year.

At the end of the fiscal year, the city anticipates bringing in $2.8 million total in tax revenues.

“What does that mean for the city? It means there is growth that people are spending more money in the city,” Mayor Sullivan said.

He also talked about current and future projects. He said about 60 to 70 percent of the road project has been completed. Mayor Sullivan said the city has been very diligent with that money and “I think people see we did what we said we would do when we voted to pass the tax.”

“We always try to remind ourselves that the people of this community trust us to do our jobs,” Mayor Sullivan said, adding there is about $25,000 going into the road account per month above the debt service.

Sewer improvements are a major deal for the city. In order to attract new businesses to the community the city needs the infrastructure. Mayor Sullivan said the city’s sewer infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired in certain areas. The 750 acres that was annexed where Wal-Mart is needs to have a better sewer infrastructure.

“We have a $2.1 million loan through the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that has been approved,” Mayor Sullivan said.

The city has also applied to the state for $1.4 million and about a month ago it went before the bond commission and was approved, but at a prior defy. The mayor said they are working to get it in priority one, which is cash, or priority two where you can borrow against the money.

The sewer improvements and drainage improvements is very high priority to the mayor and he said he’s tired of seeing when it rains the manholes come off and the waste water flows out.

“We have to stop that. And with this money we will,” Mayor Sullivan said. “Our goal is to completely rid ourselves of the problem by extending the force main to the wastewater plant.”

The city also has $700,000 in Capital Outlay for the new fire station. When the mayor meets with Senator Troy Brown and Representative Ed Price, he said he’s going to push for the fire station.

“We are so close to having all the money necessary for building it,” Mayor Sullivan said. “We have $809,000 that’s set aside from the 10 mills of property tax and we have another $600,000 set aside. We haven’t started yet because we’re waiting to have enough money to build it. The cost for the station would be a little over $2 million.”

“Hopefully it would be done before [Fire Chief] Chuck Montero retires,” Mayor Sullivan said.

As of late, Donaldsonville has also been a gem for filmmakers as several productions have come in the last few years and Mayor Sullivan said two more movie industries are looking to film in Donaldsonville. However, he and the council are looking to design an ordinance to make sure Donaldsonville benefits too.

“I used to feel like as long as they are coming to Donaldsonville, they shop local and take care of the local merchants and all the city gets a few pennies but just take care of the community,” Mayor Sullivan said. “Well the last film they had, they didn’t take care of the community the way they were supposed to.”

“So, we’re working on putting an ordinance together. We don’t want to run them away but we don’t want them to think we don’t know anything and they can treat us any kind of way,” Mayor Sullivan said.

The mayor also addressed the crime in Donaldsonville. The multiple homicides and shootings that have taken place since January has been overwhelming, but Mayor Sullivan said he still believes “Donaldsonville is a great place to live.”

“We are going through things right now that none of us are proud of but those things happen,” he said. “We try to move on and build from it and educate people to understand if we love each other more we wouldn’t have these issues going on in our community.”