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Metro Council unanimously votes to kill stormwater fee, blocks introduction of item threatening parish attorney's job

1 month 4 days 19 hours ago Wednesday, October 26 2022 Oct 26, 2022 October 26, 2022 6:44 PM October 26, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ
By: WBRZ News

BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Metro Council met Wednesday to attempt to untangle the stormwater fee debacle amid numerous reports from WBRZ showing government misinformation campaigns in an attempt to levy a fee on property.

The council unanimously voted to delete the Mayor's proposal for the Stormwater Utility Fee after more than an hour and a half of discussion. 

The fee was, at first, sold as a way to pay for storm water improvements - an effort to stop flooding.  It later became clear, the fee was likely tied to an environmental requirement, though no one was able to decipher the true intent.

Last week, Congressman Garret Graves spoke with employees of the EPA and said there was no such requirement or deadline handed down from the federal level. 

In a hearing Wednesday, while the council was questioning both the mayor and City-Parish Attorney Andy Dotson about miscommunication, the mayor told the council the issue was a great example of why she needed her own executive council.

Dotson is appointed by the council but works for both council members, the parish and the mayor.

Mayor Broome said it's standard practice that a mayor has an executive council separate from legal representatives of the council and parish government.

The council briefly discussed taking steps to fire Dotson, after Cleve Dunn added an emergency item to Wednesday's meeting, but the motion was rejected after Councilman Aaron Moak voted against it. 

"I think if we jump the gun to quick, we want a full transparency for the public to know and we want these people here so we can ask questions," Moak told WBRZ. 

At the meeting, Dotson said he never directly spoke with Mayor Broome about the Non-Disclosure Agreement. He said he gave the information to Kelvin Hill, who resigned from the Mayor's Office last week. 

"I don't know what the Mayor knows. I can tell you I never spoke with the Mayor about anything regarding this matter by phone or email," Dotson said. 

The mayor placed blame on the Parish Attorney's Office last week and maintained that at Wednesday's meeting. 

"This NDA came from the Parish Attorney's office to my people who were working and that is the extent of the knowledge I have of those NDA's," Mayor Broome said.

Councilman Aaron Moak says he still has some trust issues with the Mayor's Office and with the Parish Attorney's Office. Councilwoman Chauna Banks says she wants transparency. 

"More than trust, it's important that we are transparent, that we are honest and more than anything, we have a plan," Banks said. 

Cleve Dunn did tell WBRZ he may reintroduce an item in the future that may look to remove Dotson again, which will not need a unanimous vote.

According to a letter sent to the Metro Council by Congressman Garret Graves, East Baton Rouge Parish has $1 billion in federal funding in flood prevention. 

Watch WBRZ News 2 at Nine on WBRZ Plus and the ten o'clock news on WBRZ Ch 2 for late-breaking information about this story.  Stream the news here.

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