Coastal Zone hot topic at Calcasieu Police Jury

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -Louisiana's coast and its vanishing wetlands are a national treasure that surely everyone in the state seeks to protect. Yet the latest ideas for enlarging the state's coastal zone have some of the largest land owners up in arms. Police Jurors themselves say some laws that started out to protect the environment have gone way too far.  Said Juror Sandy Treme and their Thursday meeting, "They do studies all the time and most of them aren't worth nothing. That's just to pay salaries. It's just to keep somebody on staff and pay salaries. That's what state government's all about. You all just have to go look and you know. It's at zero."

Juror Francis Andrepont expressed similar frustration.  "I have serious reservations about what they're going to do and what they want to do. Corps of Engineers walks on water. If you don't believe me ask 'em. They will tell you they do. Bureaucrats run this country, unfortunately."

And big land owners had people there to voice opposition. Claude Buddy Leach is CEO and President of Sweetlake Land & Oil. "You want some down side? Well you better start talking about how long it takes to get a permit. Locally you can do it. But when you start asking for a change or something of that nature. It's going to go through the government and you're going to be facing the Corps of Engineers."

David Richard represents the Stream Family.  He told jurors emphatically, "We don't want this. We don't need more bureaucracy and I don't see the carrot."

Bart Yakupzack was there for Lawton Companies.  "No data, no facts, no suggestion as to how this change would in any way minimize an increase in regulatory burden. In fact, it's the exact opposite. It would increase the regulatory burden."

Jurors admit they want more information about the proposed changes. But at this point they are on record against expanding the coastal zone and asking State Legislators of Southwest Louisiana to vote against it as well.

Earlier, the Calcasieu Budget Committee met and administrative officials unveiled the proposed parish budget for next year.  It's 10.2% less than this year. That's due to in part to a projected 5% decrease in sales tax revenues.

This is the first budget in recent memory that does not include a cost of living increase for employees. Officials say their focus is on cost containment while delivering value to taxpayers.

Gaming funds are also expected to decline by 4% but the jury has a long standing policy of using those funds for building projects rather than operating budgets.

The Police Jury Budget committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2011 spending plan Thursday, December 2nd. It will go to the full jury for final approval December 16th.

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