Judge halts planned vote on Ascension Parish sewer deal
GONZALES – A meeting to vote on consolidating the sewer system in Ascension Parish was once again delayed Monday, this time by a judge’s order.
A temporary restraining order was issued over complaints there was not sufficient public notice of the hearing set for Monday evening.
It’s another cancellation tied to an attempt to approve a 30-year deal with Ascension Sewer LLC, owned by Bernhard Capital Partners, to operate the $215 million regional sewer system. It has been in the works for nearly a year.
Earlier this month, a vote was also canceled after several hours of meetings between attorneys, sewer officials and incoming parish president Clint Cointment. Cointment has expressed he and some newly elected members of the parish council have questions about the deal.
After the meeting was canceled in early December, an agreement seemed to be coming, but Cointment was asking for more concessions.
"The changes have been slight but significant," Ascension Infrastructure Division Director William Daniel said previously, referring to changes made to the contract since a November public hearing.
Daniel says concessions have already been made by the system's would-be operator to balance the deal.
"If there are some cost overruns in the building of the system, the operator will absorb those," Daniel said. "Consequently if the system does better than expected, the parishioners will benefit from that in the terms of lower fees."
A hearing for the temporary restraining order will be held January 7th. before Judge Jessie LeBlanc.
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