May 18, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt
The Calcasieu Police Jury staff will provide management help to the drainage district being investigated by the sheriff's department. The management help was requested because the drainage supervisor is on extended leave.
It's been several weeks since a lawsuit setting forth allegations that Gravity Drainage District 8 of Calcasieu Parish had employees and resources being used for private purposes. The drainage board and police jury administration requested an investigation which is ongoing. Parish officials say sheriff's investigators have requested various records and that the investigation is active. Now the parish is being asked to oversee drainage district employees because the supervisor is on extended leave.
Police Juror Don Manuel says the drainage board is sending a letter to formalize the request. "I'd like to request that the engineering staff and the public works take over the temporary, day to day operation of our drainage board until everything is cleared out. As you know, we have very little money and have four employees. We need some expertise to re-structure what we're doing."
Some jurors raised concerns about the cost and whether the parish would be reimbursed. Juror Brent Clement posed the question. "The district has a tax. Will that money be reimbursed to the parish for the actual manpower that's going in, or are we going to eat the cost of that?"
But Calcasieu Parish Administrator Mark McMurry says cost shouldn't be a problem. "The supervisor is on extended leave. It's my understanding the request is mainly for supervisory help. It is not to go move equipment and employees, parish employees and equipment up there. And it would not be my impression that we would want reimbursement for some supervisory time."
Manuel says the drainage board will remain active while awaiting the outcome of the investigation.