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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: City leaders admit "mistake" cost thousands of dollars

10 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Tuesday, January 31 2017 Jan 31, 2017 January 31, 2017 4:36 PM January 31, 2017 in News
Source: WBRZ

GONZALES- Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly a quarter of a million dollars to repair the flooded out City Hall in Gonzales.

Despite being in a flood zone, city leaders opted out of carrying flood insurance. City leaders said they never imagined the building would flood.

"It never flooded," Mayor Barney Arceneaux said. "People never thought it would happen, and a mistake was made."

In August, floodwater swamped City Hall in about eight inches of water. Flood maps currently on the books show the property is in zone "AE," which is considered a flood zone with a small chance of flooding annually.

"It's something maybe we should have had," Arceneaux said. "Maybe we should have thought about this years ago."

Currently, employees are sharing office space in cramped conditions where the old Gonzales City Police Department used to work. Residents like Latoya Barnes are fuming over the fact that taxpayer money will have to be used to fix the building.

"They gotta do better work, they know the city better than us," Barnes said.

Barnes believes there are plenty of other things like roads and various improvement projects that money could have been spent on, if city leaders had purchased flood insurance.

"They should have had flood insurance," Barnes said.

Although hindsight is clear, Arceneaux says the city admits they made a mistake. However, the city is moving forward and recently received a $12,000 quote to insure the building.

"We will bring it to the city council and get their feelings about what they want to do," Arceneaux said. "We'll have to do an amendment if we want to move forward in getting the insurance."

City leaders are hoping FEMA will reimburse them for some of the costs of repairs. Construction is expected to begin next week and should take about 60 days to complete.

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