St. Bernard’s drainage dispute flows during Council meeting
Two individuals identifying themselves as Orleans Parish residents, Roy Arrigo and Carol Byram, requested to speak during the public remarks portion at this week’s Council meeting held on Tuesday, July 16.
Arrigo wanted to clear the misconception of St. Bernard’s flood protection affecting both Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, stating it was a “myth created in recent years by politicians,” thus there “no justification for Orleans and Jefferson being [financially] responsible for most of St. Bernard’s perimeter or internal flood protection.”
Councilman-at-Large West Richie Lewis wasn’t fully convinced. He used the idea of removing the storm surge barrier as an example.
“We know what’s going to happen to New Orleans; that’s why the wall’s there. They didn’t put it up to protect St. Bernard,” Lewis stated. “However, that wall protects Orleans and Jefferson.”
Councilman Gillis McCloskey of District A echoed Lewis. “If you were to tear down the 50 percent of the structure that exists in St. Bernard Parish, I’m pretty sure that would have some flood impacts for the entire region” he said. “Is it fair that 50,000 residents pay for a structure that size that protects so many miles, of property and population?”
Carol Byram urged the Council members to consider the ones truly paying for the parish’s flood protection: the other parishes’ taxpayers.
She stated Orleans Parish residents now pay 65 percent of SLFPA-E’s expenses while Jefferson pays one-third. In addition, only one-third of Orleans residents pay their taxes since twothirds of the properties such as universities, parks and hospitals are tax exempt.
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