Council resolve to stop Post Office closingMay 24th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
“This particular site is on a ‘hit-list.’”
- Craig Taffaro, St. Bernard Parish President
On May 17, the St. Bernard Parish Council met in chambers to take action on the closure of one local branch of the U.S. Postal Service, as well as to honor several citizens and organizations for their excellence.
Post office shutdown
The Council adopted a resolution of unanimous consent and vote, requesting the St. Bernard branch of the Post Office remain open.
“The Postal Service has been considering closing the office by Highway 46 due to population issues,” according to Councilman Fred Everhardt Jr, District E. Everhardt had some communication with the Postmaster General’s office, and so has President Taffaro.
“This particular site is on a ‘hit-list,’” said Taffaro. “The outcome of that conversation is that there will indeed be some public meetings.”
The issue of population translates into hours of transactions per day. If the office does not do enough business, it falls on the list for potential shutdown. A questionnaire is set to go to all residents in the 70085, in addition to planned public meetings regarding the need for an office in the area.
“Even more important than the number [of people] is the distance those people have to go,” said Councilman Mike Ginart Jr., District D. The distance for the residents who use the St. Bernard branch would indeed be increased if they had to drive all the way to Arabi for their postage, but an additional concern is the sheer number of residents who would come to rely on the Arabi office.
“I believe if we close this post office [in St. Bernard], all these residents would be forced to crowd the Arabi office,” said Everhardt.
The Council and administration plan to send the resolution supporting the continued usage of the St. Bernard Post Office to the Postmaster General for consideration in the matter. The hope is that by presenting this unified front, the closure can be avoided.
The ordinance altering final contractors payment procedures failed by a vote of 3-4.
The ordinance was proposed by Councilman Everhardt. If the legislation had passed, any final payments to contractors working on parish projects would have to come before the Council for approval before the that final payment was executed by the parish.
The system currently in place does not require official approval from the Council before any final payment is issued, but, as Councilman Ginart pointed out, no payments have gone through if any councilmember has put forth a grievance about a subcontractor working on a parish approved project.
“I think this is checks and balances, part of transparency, and part of our duty,” said Everhardt. The legislation, from his viewpoint, is designed to give the word of any councilman more weight, without having to go to the administration about a project taking place within their own district. “This gives you a little teeth… if you walk on a job site and say ‘I don’t like that,’” Everhardt said.
However, several councilman, including Ginart were concerned that this would only provide an extra layer of bureaucracy that contractors must jump through to attain that final payment, a concern also expressed by the administration since the legislation was proposed.
“I believe this is a well-intentioned but poorly-written piece of legislation,” said Councilman Kenneth Henderson of District C.
Councilman Ray Lauga Jr., District A, also added that, “I don’t see where this is enforceable.”
Councilman-at-Large East Wayne Landry proposed amending the language of the ordinance that would only require that the regional councilmember be notified of a project’s substantial completion. That amendment passed 4-3, with Councilman Lauga, Ginart, and Councilman-at-Large West Frank Auderer as the dissenting votes.
When the ordinance went to vote with the amendments, it was voted down by 3-4, with only Councilman Landry, Everhardt, and Councilman George Cavignac, District C, voting in favor of the legislation.
Other items heard:
• An ordinance was passed 7-0 ratifying and reverting the parish back to the Chapter 22 zoning. An emergency ordinance had been passed at a previous meeting to put these zoning codes into effect until which time the Council could push through the official ordinance that would reinstate Chapter 22. These zoning codes were in place before the rezoning in December 2009 that was struck down by the decision handed down by Fifth Circuit Judge Helen Berrigan.
• The Council voted to wave any fees for the use of the Sigur Center as the site of this fall’s St. Bernard/P.G.T. Beauregard High School Grand Reunion. Previous discussions by the council expressed concern over the precedent set by waving the fees for a specific group. The council voted 6-1 in favor of waving any fees, with Councilman-at-Large West Auderer being the only dissenting vote. The reunion will be held October 8, and is the largest endeavor of its kind, drawing back decades of graduates from multiple high schools that no longer exist. It is meant to bring back many who have not returned since Hurricane Katrina.
• Emergency closure of the Brown Shrimp season was recommended to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries by the Council. The closure will delay the season an additional two weeks to allow the shrimp to mature. The new start date would be June 6.
• Elizabeth McDougal, as the St. Bernard Parish Tourism Director, met with the Council to update them on the various efforts to draw tourists. McDougal’s presentation included photos from a recent travel writers tour, showcasing the local flavors and culture that provides 260 jobs to the parish and in 2010 brought $480,000 in local sales tax revenue to St. Bernard. Ongoing efforts include a separate tourism plan and a cultural arts plan, to draw more people to the attractions of St. Bernard.