[StBernard] Taffaro and Landry testified to the LRA Board -- LRA gave a commitment for funding

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Mon Oct 26 16:56:37 EDT 2009

Taffaro and Landry testified to the LRA Board

LRA gave a commitment for funding

Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr. and Councilman-at-Large Wayne Landry
along with Councilman George Cavignac appeared in front of the LRA Board in
Baton Rouge last week and all three considered the trip a success.

Taffaro offered an overall recovery update and discussed the challenges to
cash flow as the pace of recovery projects has continued to stretch the
state and FEMA personnel to cover the necessary paperwork for the approved
projects. Taffaro reminded the board that although St. Bernard Parish
continues to lead the Gulf Coast region in virtually every measurable
category of recovery, there still exists a great deal of work to be done,
especially in the final push for blight removal.

More than $600 million have flowed through St. Bernard Parish since
Taffaro's term began 22 months ago with some 250 projects having started and
a third of them coming to completion. Taffaro reported that while projects
like sewer lift stations, fire stations, recreational facilities, public
buildings, and miles of roadways mark the recovering community, the need for
more comprehensive medical services and a hospital still exists as a primary

With support from board member Walter Leger, Taffaro explained to the board
that St. Bernard, in its efforts to push forward in the recovery, has
dedicated some of its long term recovery money to support the parish's
Hospital Service District for the completion of the complex, but there still
exists a shortfall.

Landry, who also serves as the chairman of the Hospital Service District,
described a hospital complex project that is moving forward but will soon
hit a point that will cause delays if additional funding is not put in
place. Leger weighed in to explain that the LRA Board bypassed allocating
healthcare dollars to St. Bernard early on in the recovery due to the parish
receiving commitments that private funds would be forthcoming to build a
hospital to replace the former privately owned facility.

The emphasis of Landry's presentation was to seek additional funding from
the LRA for the completion of the hospital complex. The State Legislature
placed $17 million in capital outlay of which approximately $3 million is
accessible. The remaining $14 million makes up funding that is not cash
ready and creates a challenge to actually bidding the hospital project.
Additionally, Landry explained that funding shortfalls will keep the
district from building a much needed medical office building to support the
medical community and administrative services of the hospital. Councilman
George Cavignac, also a member of the Hospital Service District, expressed
the reality of the need for medical support and what a shortfall means to
the overall success of the hospital project.

The three-member delegation from St. Bernard put a $10 million request in
front of the board and received support from the members. Discussion with
the LRA Executive Director Paul Rainwater further laid the groundwork for
the additional funding commitment to bridge the gap for the hospital project
and allow the project to stay on a schedule for groundbreaking before the
end of the year and a completion schedule that is projected to be the fall
of 2011.

For more information about the Growth and Recovery in St. Bernard Parish,
visit our website at www.sbpg.net <http://www.sbpg.net/> .


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