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Building permit at center of controversy

3 years 4 weeks 21 hours ago May 28, 2014 May 28, 2014 Wednesday, May 28 2014 May 28, 2014 6:07 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Chris Nakamoto

NEW ROADS - Serious questions are being raised over a building permit issued in Pointe Coupee Parish which may not have complied with parish guidelines.

It centers around a nearly $10 million health care center taking shape on Major Parkway in New Roads. In May of last year, the police jury passed an ordinance increasing the fees for a building permit in the parish. However, when the permit was issued for the multi-million dollar facility the cheaper rate was used.

The issue was reported to the State Inspector General, Attorney General and the State Legislative Auditor.

"My main concern is the lack of consistency and the good ole' boy politics," Police Juror Justin Cox said.

Initially a permit was issued in December for nearly $39,000. Another permit was re-issued in March for $17,000. That difference is concerning to Cox and other Police Jurors.

"To not collect the full $39,000 by the police jury is essentially giving away public funds," Cox said.

Parish Administrator Jimmy Bello told News 2 it was Parish Attorney John Wayne Jewel who ordered the building permit to be issued that way. However, an email Jewel sent to Bello in February contradicts what Bello told us.

Part of the email reads, "I cannot come up with a solution in his favor which would not violate the constitution which prohibits donating public funds to the private sector.

"Clearly what has been done here speaks volumes for the people who condone this behavior," Cox said.

An attorney is reviewing whether the cheaper rate can be used. After the jury increased the fees for building permits, 47 others were issued in the parish at the higher rate. If refunds have to be issued it could cost taxpayers thousands of dollars more.

Key parish leaders involved in this refused to do an on-camera interview today.

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