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Story Archives: Money problems plague jurors
|Money problems plague jurors|
Slow funding, or no funding, were expected to be named causes for delayed Franklin Parish Police Jury action on several projects of major interest during the governing body's meeting Tuesday night.
In a meeting moved to Tuesday instead of the standard Thursday night, the Jury was expected to lay part of the problem at the feet of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which had pledged $1 million to retrofit windows in parish public buildings about two months before Hurricane Gustav winds and rains hit the parish last August.
The no funding issues involve the dilemma of the non-functioning sewer system in Washington Subdivision.
"There're just no extra money in the general fund," to pay for the Jury to take over the operation of the sewer system, said Jury Treasurer Sam Wiggins.
The jury is expected to contend also that there are no funds to pay for a promised deal with the Franklin Parish School Board to asphalt the road leading to the Franklin Parish High School football stadium.
The school board and the Franklin Parish Sheriff's Office came to the jury's rescue last May when FEMA policies threatened to cut off the $1 million window funding.
The jury's request to FEMA needed to be trimmed by about $200,000 in May in order to salvage the entire window project to be financed by the Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
School Superintendent Lanny Johnson agreed to drop the schools from the list, at a cost of just over $200,000, in return for jury-provided hard surfaces leading to the stadium and around the outside of the stadium.
The gentlemen's agreement between the school board and the jury ran into objections from the auditors of both groups. Legal representatives of the two apparently reached an agreement which would forestall any future accounting issues by auditors.
Some jurors now contend that the deal can not be completed because the jury has not received the $1 million in window funds from FEMA.
The recent history of the Washington Subdivision sewer problems has been on and off again.
The jury agreed in May to pay $1 to Leedale Heckhard for the system. It later moved to set aside as much as $10,000 to get the system running but only after ownership changed from an individual to the jury. Still later, the jury withdrew all actions in favor of investigating ways of solving the sewer problems without owning the property.
At the suggestion of an outside consultant, the jury elected to look into either creating a non-profit group or a special purpose service district to oversee the sewer system. In either case, the jury was told, residents who live in the sewer service area would be necessary to participate in the oversight.
Historically, the system has been plagued by non-payment because of non-working service.
Jackie Johnson, who first brought the plight of the sewer system to the jury's attention, has contended the jury has ultimate responsibility for the area because of health concerns.
In other areas, the jury is expected to look into the possibility of replacing equipment, such as trucks used in the road program.
Parish road work, operating on a highly publicized and prioritized schedule, continues to proceed with minor monthly adjustments.