[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish president announces need for more cost cutting

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed May 2 22:28:26 EDT 2012

St. Bernard Parish president announces need for more cost cutting

Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 11:10 AM

By Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, The Times-Picayune

One meeting after President Dave Peralta announced the layoffs of 20 parish
employees and that he anticipated more, Peralta told the St. Bernard Parish
Council on Tuesday evening that he is asking each parish manager and
director to submit plans for 25 percent cost reductions.

"The public must realize that with such a reduction there will be a
corresponding reduction in services," he cautioned. "These may include but
not be limited to an increase in water rates or garbage fees."

Peralta said his administration has worked "relentless hours these past
weeks" to examine cost-cutting efforts and revenue measures "to retain as
many of our hard-working personnel as possible."

In other matters, the Parish Council on Tuesday unanimously overrode
Peralta's veto of a zoning change for a proposed microbrewery in Chalmette.
By doing so, the Parish Council reaffirmed its unanimous April 3 decision to
enact the change.

On Tuesday, though, unlike during the April 3 vote, Councilman Nathan
Gorbaty abstained from the vote on the zoning change. After his vote last
month, several residents complained about his ethics, pointing out that his
uncle, attorney Mike Gorbaty, represented the property's owner, Sterling J.
Cardon Jr., in the zoning matter.

Residents who live near the proposed brewery have expressed concerns about
potential noise and pollution, and several people attended the council
meeting to show their support of Peralta's veto.

Cardon's property, which he bought in April 2011 for $350,000, fronts St.
Bernard Highway, between Gallo and Volpe drives.

Discussing his decision, Peralta has largely reiterated his staff's previous
assessment. The parish Office of Community Development recommended denying
the zoning change, stating that parish zoning laws restrict the depth of
commercial lots fronting highways to 250 feet. The Cardon property is 600
feet deep.

Cardon would rent the property to Michael Naquin, who would own and operate
the microbrewery that he's anticipated labeling "40 Arpent," after the 40
Arpent Canal.

The council on Tuesday also indefinitely tabled an ordinance for a temporary
moratorium on new permits or licenses for retail establishments smaller than
15,000 square feet "in which 5 percent of that property is dedicated to the
sale of perishable and/or nonperishable food items," not including gas
stations or drug stores.

The reason Councilmen Guy McInnis and Richie Lewis said they supported the
ordinance, introduced by Councilman Casey Hunnicutt, was that it would
prevent more "Dollar General-type stores" from sprouting up throughout the
parish. They say the stores drive away other more desirable businesses and
dissuade higher income families from moving to the parish.

Hunnicutt, on the urging of Councilman Ray Lauga, said he likely will
instead pursue an ordinance that restricts such businesses in certain areas
by creating corridors, forgoing an all-out moratorium that ruffled several
parish economic development officials' feathers.

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