EPPJ discusses plan to handle loaning out equipment to other agencies
A new state constitutional amendment allowing governmental agencies to share equipment has gotten the Evangeline Parish Police Jury questioning how to maneuver in foreign territory. The change is one Public Works Director Chester Granger said “is going to affect the jury dramatically.”
The new amendment was approved by Louisiana voters last November and allows local governmental entities to donate goods and services to each other without need for compensation in return.
During the jury’s Monday meeting, Granger shared that a parish is requesting to use equipment that belongs to the EPPJ. “In regard to that specific piece of equipment, I spoke to Donald Bergeron and it’s a rarely used piece of equipment that won’t hurt us right now,” said Granger. “But, I am telling you guys this is going to be a major adjustment that y’all are going to have to go through and y’all better be careful when we set the rules y’all are going to put on me to work for other agencies.”
According to Granger, he needs guidance in determining how to handle this situation because while one parish wants a piece of equipment the EPPJ doesn’t use much, others are requesting much more.
During this discussion, Police Juror Eric Soileau offered his thoughts and stated, “We do have to remember this is a may, not a shall. We have to be careful when we put this together. We have a lot of constituents in our regular ole districts that need things. Like right now there ain’t no way we are even close to being caught up on jobs. So I ask that we would be very careful with what we set up.”
Several other police jury members, including Lamar Johnson, Bryan Vidrine, Ryan Ardoin and Sidney Fontenot voiced their thought and how they wish to proceed with this topic.
Johnson expressed if the police jury is not using the equipment then he doesn’t see why the jury can’t loan it out to other agencies. However, he also stated he feels there should be some sort of “parameter put in place in case our stuff does get torn up or something.”
Granger assured the jury that at this time he has been telling other agencies he can’t tell them yes or no on whether they can borrow equipment until he speaks with the jury. He also stated he said if they are allowed to borrow equipment it must be returned to the police jury in whatever condition it was when it was loaned to them.
Granger said, “They (agency borrowing the equipment) are going to pay for all repairs of damage or anything.”
Granger then warned, “If things continue progressing the way they are going, everyone is going to be relying on everybody else. We are going to have to set some guidelines.”
Vidrine he requested that the jury look into setting a cap on what it will do for other municipalities, while Ardoin, who has constituents living in the town limits of Mamou, asked that he be notified if the Town of Mamou is requesting assistance.
With so many questions to still be answered, Fontenot suggested that the jury have its legal council review the new amendment for them again before any decisions are made.
During its recent meeting, the police jury also discussed its plan to ramp up security at the courthouse in an effort to make those working after hours safer.
The discussion of increasing security began back in October when complaints were made to police jury Secretary Treasurer Donald Bergeron regarding people going into the courthouse after hours who did not have any business to tend to.
The reason for the security according to Police Jury President Ryan Williams “is for the safety of our dispatchers so people can’t just come in.”
During Monday’s meeting, Bergeron shared that several offices inside the courthouse have mentioned they may be willing to “pitch in” to help the jury pay for the advanced security measures.
However, before the jury can move forward with this project, Bergeron said it would have to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the courthouse offices that will assist in paying for the security system.
According to Bergeron, the new security will consist of locking the courthouse doors after hours, and a camera and intercom system would be added to the outside of the courthouse. The camera and intercom will allow dispatchers to see and converse with visitors at the courthouse to ensure they have business to tend to before allowing the visitor inside.
In total this project will cost approximately $1,600, and if other offices chip in with the cost Bergeron said each would pay “maybe $400 a piece.” Otherwise, the police jury will have to foot the whole bill.
The jury’s decision seemed to be made easily and they agreed to move forward with entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the other offices in the courthouse.
Following this discussion, Police Juror Rocky Rider requested the jury lower the speed limit on Fernwood Road from 45 miles-per-hour to 25 miles-per-hour.
Rider shared that people have complained about the speed drivers are traveling because there are children who ride there bikes along this road.
The jury was in favor of Rider’s suggestion and a public hearing for the speed limit change was set for February 4, 2019 at 4:45 p.m.
Shuff Road in Daniel Arvie’s district then became the topic of discussion. Granger shared that a constituent is requesting white lines be added to the road due to the fact that drivers continue to straighten out a curve on that road and drive into his yard.
According to Granger, the individual has already used his own money to add a light near the curve in an attempt to solve this problem. However, it has not worked and therefore he asks the jury add the white lines.
Along with adding the white lines, the public works director said that every time someone straightens out the curve they land on the jury’s drain, which now needs to be replaced.
Granger said he is going to look into prices for both projects and will let Arvie know the cost.
Items approved at the meeting were:
•Dues and attendance to the 2019 Registrar of Voters’ Seminar on February 5th through Feb. 6th.
•Designate Police Jury regular meeting date and time for the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m.