[StBernard] St. Bernard council introduces charter amendment, creates new code enforcement officer

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri Aug 22 09:39:27 EDT 2014

St. Bernard council introduces charter amendment, creates new code
enforcement officer
Print Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Benjamin
Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
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on August 19, 2014 at 7:40 PM, updated August 19, 2014 at 7:49 PM

St. Bernard Parish Council Chairman Guy McInnis on Tuesday led another stab
at getting a proposed charter amendment in front of voters that could
determine whether council members can hold other elected positions
immediately upon leaving office. His first attempt last month met with
failure after the council struck down a similar proposal.

Some council members and members of the public question the clarity of a
2009 charter amendment's language, arguing that it is unclear whether it
prevents council members from running for other public posts until one year
after leaving office. The ordinance introduced by the council on Tuesday
would place the matter in front of voters during a Dec. 6 special election.

On July 15, the council adopted a resolution requesting that state Attorney
General Buddy Caldwell provide the council with an opinion that could
clarify the language, but the attorney general's office has not yet provided
that opinion to the council.

McInnis has been rumored as a potential parish president candidate in 2015.

In other matters on Tuesday, the Parish Council approved the creation of a
new department to police various code violations. The department will
consist of a hearing officer and an assistant and will be funded entirely by
the fines assessed by the hearing officer, according to Councilman Casey
Hunnicutt, who spearheaded the initiative.

The hearing officer will enforce public health, housing, fire code,
environment or historic district ordinances, and will serve a one-year term.
The council will appoint the officer and any staff, according to the

Parish President Dave Peralta has said he expects the new department to save
the parish money, while also cutting down on blight.

"I'm for anything that will speed the process of code enforcement along,"
Peralta said.

The council on Tuesday also approved two flood protection-related
resolutions following discussion by Lake Borgne Basin Levee District
Executive Director Nick Cali and former east bank levee authority President
Tim Doody.

One resolution supported the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection
Authority-East's request for $4 million from the state to design and
construct a floodwall on the west side of the Violet Canal.

Doody and Cali explained that the wall, tied into the Forty Arpent Levee, is
needed for that levee to meet certification requirements. The local Lake
Borgne Basin Levee District faces a $500,000 annual deficit and can't pay
for the project and so the district is looking to the state to pick up the
bill, "unless you tell us that there is pot of gold out there," Doody said.

If the floodwall is not built and the Forty Arpent Levee is not certified,
flood insurance "premiums will significantly increase" in New Orleans' Lower
9th Ward and in St. Bernard Parish, "severely impacting new home ownership,
mortgages and the tax base" of those areas, the resolution stated.

The other council resolution requested that the state include various new
restoration projects in its 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is charged with
updating the 2012 plan and the authority asked the parish for a list of
additional projects "to supplement the 2012 plan list in preparation for the
2017 update," according to the resolution.

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