The following answers were provided by Gerrin Narcisse running for Council District 7 in St. Tammany Parish:

1. What do you think is the single most important drainage issue in your district and what are your proposals to solve and fund it?

Drainage, as a whole is a huge problem across District 7 and St. Tammany Parish. Developments are completed without adequate foresight as to how the water is going to impact existing neighborhoods. Furthermore, a lack of proper maintenance of canals and existing drainage structures cause clogs into the existing systems.

Policies and ordinances which call for drainage and infrastructure foresight before the development goes in, will mitigate the flooding caused by unchecked development. Areas such as the Woodlands have experienced this to the utmost and more houses are being put in the area. Furthermore, south of 190 in Lacombe is huge drainage nightmare that can be solved, in part, by clearing existing blockages from drainage pathways to insure water flow. 

2. What is your definition of economic development in St. Tammany Parish? What criteria should be used in granting property tax exemptions and what property tax exemptions do you support?

Economic development in St. Tammany a multitude of diverse things. Tourism (Eco and cultural), manufacturing, small businesses, home building and big retail.

Traditionally, Payments In-Lew of Taxes (PILOTs) have been used to attract business to the area. These should be proportional to the amount of labor employed from the area and be in proportion to the amount of revenue these companies make. The PILOT should go to the community in which the company is housed for betterment. Furthermore, these PILOTs should have a firm expiration date and should not be perpetual. Once revenues are consistent, the normal taxes should be enforced.

Furthermore, homestead exemptions and age exemptions are a good thing.  Properly maintained databases and records should be in place to make sure no one can cheat the system and claim homestead on a house they do not own or is living in a house their grandma used to own. Also, certain exemptions are in place for specific circumstance such as “the wife of a firefighter/police who died in service to the community exemption.” Those too, are a great way to honor their sacrifice. 

3. Should the parish government acquire, operate and maintain private sewage and water systems?  Why or why not?

Many people, including myself, love their individual pump and well system. The issue is St. Tammany Parish is under federal mandates to do something about the sewer troubles in the parish.  The parish has taken many steps to alleviate a portion of the out of date systems. For example, they will not issue permits without an up-to-date sewer treatment system. However, the problem remains. To  complicate things, the costs are very high to convert to public sewage. If there are no grants to begin and maintain the public sewage, there would be no revenue to do it. Therefore, in the short term, the measures the parish has in place will have to suffice. 

4. Heavy rain events are becoming more frequent and severe.  How has this impacted your district?  What are your plans for mitigating the effects?

Simple rains of 30 minutess to an hour are now causing people to have to worry about losing property. Driving through the district on a rainy day, the water frequently tops the roads. On a stormy day, buses have trouble going down the roads.

Policies and ordinances which call for drainage and infrastructure foresight before the development goes in, will mitigate the flooding caused by unchecked development. Analyzing existing drainage to bring the drainage ways up to standard and unclog the pathways to allow for better flow will also mitigate flooding.