Gonzales - Thursday night's council meeting lasted more than three hours. The majority of the time was spent debating the proposed 30-year contract with Ascension Sewer LLC, owned by Bernhard Capital Partners, to operate the $215 million regional sewer system. It was a debate residents wanted to be a part of.
"We just need a plan that's going to work," one resident said. "That's going to service this community, but it's not going to put us in debt forever."
Another added, "they are on their way to the bank laughing at Ascension Parish."
An additional voice chimed in with, "I just hope we hit the brakes a little bit and let's involve the public a little bit more.
Incoming parish president Clint Cointment implored the council to delay the vote for a number of reasons, including finances, due diligence and the fact that many of the current council members are leaving the office at the end of the year. He admits the parish needs a solution when it comes to sewage he says the public has to be on board.
"Their input is crucial and public knowledge is crucial," Cointment said. "So I want to thank you for giving them another opportunity, and encourage you to give them even more opportunity to go around the parish explain what we're doing, why we're doing it to ensure that transparency is there in this process."
Some councilmembers, including utility committee chair Daniel "Doc" Satterlee, say the public has had a seat at the table.
"Ladies and gentlemen no one is trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes I can personally assure you that," Satterlee said.
Parish leaders decided to keep their message tonight simple.
We've got to get the sewer out of the ditch," Infrastructure Division Director, William Daniel said. "If we want to be the type of parish we want to be, we can't have sewer in a ditch."
"While residents haven't liked the process, they did make it clear Thursday night that the purpose is legitimate.
"We need regional sewer in ascension parish," a resident said during the public comment period. "I don't think anybody is gonna argue against that, it needs to happen."
"I don't want us to kick this can 15 years down the road and see our waterways impacted severely," another resident said.
A special meeting to address the contract is expected in the near future.