Council members question cost of fire hydrant painting contract

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Some members of the Ascension Parish Council questioned a contract for renewing and painting fire hydrants in the Donaldsonville area.

During the March 16 meeting held in Gonzales, members discussed the parish contract with Insulation Sales and Service of Baton Rouge to pay $759 per hydrant for 55 hydrants. The contract, signed by the parish president in January, totaled $41,745.

The scope of the work included power washing and preparing each hydrant by hand, followed by applying paint to each one.

Councilman Corey Orgeron speaks during the Ascension Parish Council meeting held Feb. 2 at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

District 4 Councilman Corey Orgeron said he found through an Internet search that an area parish paid between $73 and $78 for seemingly similar work.

"So there is some concern as far as what's going on with the entering of contracts in our parish, particularly these contracts that are going to be throwing away silly money," said Orgeron, whose district is in the Prairieville area. "I don't know of anybody out here that wouldn't agree to paint fire hydrants at $750 a pop."

Orgeron added that the District Attorney's Office would investigate the matter.

"We should also entertain using the Attorney General's Office to dig into and investigate this situation, and to see if it's not just fire hydrants that we're entering into contracts like this about. It's a travesty that you have to be worried about your elected officials," Orgeron said.

The contract was not required to be put out for public bid due to being under the minimum threshold.

Parish President Clint Cointment was not in attendance for the meeting due to a family matter.

District 1 Councilman Alvin "Coach" Thomas, who represents the Donaldsonville area of the west bank, said he found out about the contract around two weeks ago. He said he requested help with the hydrants about a year and a half ago.

"My biggest concern is that I'm sure we can do better in spending taxpayers' money moving forward and making sure their money is being spent well," Thomas said.

Chief Financial Officer Patrick Goldsmith said he was unable to give details into the matter due to the investigation. He said the matter has been dealt with internally for some time, and a full report would be forthcoming.

Gonzales Weekly Citizen and Donaldsonville Chief, part of the USA Today Network of Louisiana, cover Ascension Parish and the greater Baton Rouge area. Follow at facebook.com/WeeklyCitizen and facebook.com/DonaldsonvilleChief.