Concerns amid CPPJ’s approval to consolidate drainage districts

CPPJ approves drainage district consolidation

CALCASIEU, LA (KPLC) - If you’ve lived in Calcasieu Parish for quite some time, you know drainage is always an important topic.

Thursday night, parish officials voted to decrease the number of drainage districts in the parish, but what will it mean for residents?

“We’ve always known that we have drainage problems, but how do we fix those things? And I would rather miss the mark trying than to continue to let things stay the way they are," District 6 Juror Dennis Scott, said.

A 2015 study by the Calcasieu Police Jury, analyzed drainage and watershed needs in our area

This map symbolizes the outcome of a long debate: A district on the east and west side of the Calcasieu River.

There are currently seven drainage districts in Calcasieu parish, with 35 board members accessible to the public. However, this new approach cuts that number down to 14 board members and will ultimately bring a new tax proposal to the forefront.

“There are a lot of good points in this plan, but it hinges on a tax that hasn’t been passed yet and if that tax doesn’t pass there’s a big ol’ question mark," district 12 police juror, Judd Bares, said.

Under the plan, employees currently managed by the drainage boards will keep their jobs, and each district will maintain a yard and maintenance crew.

Several police jurors, including Bares, voiced their concerns to the tax.

“My big question is what if one district passes it and the other one doesn’t? A lot of people say, ‘well this isn’t going to fix drainage’...well, no it’s not—not by itself,” Bares said.

Scott said there are still a lot of discussions taking place in regards to the new plan, but overall, residents shouldn’t worry about it having an affect on projects currently in place.

“When we began as an initiative for the Calcasieu Parish to attack drainage as an overall initiative, we knew that this was going to be millions of dollars over many years,” Scott said.

The model being developed by the Police Jury has already obtained international recognition even prior to the Governor’s Executive Order through the scope of work and progress being achieved in the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury’s Watershed Master Plan commissioned in 2017. The Police Jury’s parish-wide master plan is being developed using a proven and tested method that originated in the Netherlands, leaders in drainage planning worldwide.

Some jurors said having fewer drainage districts will ultimately be more cost efficient for residents. In 2020, board members from each of the two new districts will call a tax for a replacement millage, which police jury officials said will be lower than all existing millages currently in place.

To help with the transition, CPPJ would use existing money to pay part of the initial funding difference for up to three years.

The vote to consolidate the districts passed with a 9 to 4 vote.

CPPJ hopes to implement these consolidations by June 24.

Scott said an election to decide on a tax proposal wouldn’t happen until Spring of 2020.

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