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Thursday vote on Ascension sewer contract likely to be delayed

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ASCENSION PARISH - The vote on a $210 million contract to consolidate Ascension Parish's sewer system will likely be delayed. 

The vote was set for January 23 by the outgoing parish council last month. It was also agreed that an open house be held prior to the vote. No such event has been scheduled. 

"There wasn't enough time to try to have an open house, push that through, have the necessary negotiations, have the necessary vetting and have a contract ready to present to the full council on the 23rd," councilman Corey Orgeron said. 

Orgeron was sworn in as the district four councilman earlier this month, and just days ago he became the utilities committee chairman. One of his first moves since taking office will be to ask the council to defer Thursday's vote 60 additional days. He says the new council hasn't had the time to give the proposal proper consideration.

"We had Christmas," Orgeron said.  "We had a lame-duck council. We had new years."

This wouldn't be the first delay. A slew of temporary restraining orders sent the issue to court last month. Even before that, concerns raised by the then-incoming parish president, Clint Cointment, led to more back and forth at the negotiating table. 

Orgeron says be pushing the vote back two months will give residents what they originally asked for.

"Those meetings we had in November and December, I heard the public saying, take a break, take a pause, review this contract, give us an opportunity to look at it, give us an opportunity to vet the process," Orgeron said.

A delay Thursday would put the vote on the March 19 council agenda. Orgeron admits the council needs to vote on the matter one way or the other but adds giving the parish more time to make a deal will help in the long run.

"If you don't have a deadline on a negotiation then you can talk forever," Orgeron said. "This opportunity gives everyone the chance to say, March 19, we're going to have the best deal, we're going to have it presented to the council. We'll look at that, all 11 of us will vote on it. If it goes up or down, that's the vote of the people."

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