The following answers were provided by Jerry Binder (Incumbent) running for Council District 12 in St. Tammany Parish:
In Parish Council District 12, which I represent, there is in place a multi faceted approach to drainage. Each facet of how we drain Council District 12 is important to our drainage success. For example, Council District 12 has a combination of Gravity Drainage primarily via the W-14 Canal in the central area of the district, the WP-20 Canal and South Lateral Canal in the southern area of the district, and in the western portion of the district a combination of sub sub surface and open ditch drainage into laterals that drain into primarily Bayou Vincent and the lake. Additionally, District 12 combines this Gravity Drainage System with a series of Pump Stations at the Schneider Canal in the south Slidell area, the Drainage District 5 Pump Station which drains three of the Oak Harbor subdivisions, the Dellwood Pump Station,Lee St station, & the Olde Towne Pump Station at the old Slidell barn. The Schneider Canal Pumps have a maximum pumping of 360,000 gallons a minute.Drainage District 5 Pump Station. At the same time,the Dellwood Station has max pumping capacity of over 140,000 gallons of water a minute that flows to it from sub surface drainage and open ditch drainage. add the Olde Towne Pump Station with its 280,000 gallon capacity, Lee St Station & the laterals that drain water in other areas of District 12. Collectively, we have a very effective, multi dimensional drainage system in Council District 12. Beginning with my earlier years as a Slidell City Councilman through my current years as a St Tammany Parish Councilman, drainage improvements have been ongoing. We’ve added extra pumping capacity, added emergency generators, performed proper preventative maintenance on our pumps, and followed a program of “de snagging” our main drainage canals, laterals, and open ditches. Slidell and St Tammany continue to work cooperatively on drainage for the good of all our citizens in District 12.
I believe when most of us, including both elected officials and citizens, think of economic development the first thought that comes to mind is “good jobs that pay well”. A St Tammany business wants to expand its manufacturing and create additional good jobs. This company already has a business history in St Tammany Parish. An important consideration should be has this existing business, that wants to expand and seeks the tax advantages that come with the State’s Industrial Tax Exemption, been a partner in the development of the community of St Tammany Parish beyond “tax incentives for jobs”. We need companies who want to do more than swap tax incentives for jobs. We need enthusiastic business partners that are involved beyond their own business goals. Second, is the new business that wants to locate in St Tammany Parish or relocate their manufacturing business to St Tammany. Many times, securing the relocation of an existing company for manufacturing is considered a real win for the community. However, we need to do our due diligence. For example, is the relocating company financially sound? What is their potential? Do they have a five year plan that has the opportunity to create even more new jobs due to their business success. Will they be partners in our community and encourage other companies to come to St Tammany.
The property tax exemptions I would consider would be those that qualify for consideration under the Industrial Tax Exemption Program as outlined by Louisiana Economic Development, LED. My criteria as stated above would include more than a tax credit for jobs. I would only vote to approve if I were convinced of long term benefits to St Tammany Parish and our citizens.
Generally, I would say no. While there can be advantages to local government ownership, that advantage only exists if the privately owned utility has a strong record of proper preventative maintenance and a history of upgrades, repairs, and modernization of all mechanical and electrical equipment of the sewage and water system. Then, there is the age and condition of all underground water and sewage lines and pipes. Has the privately owned system maintained and properly funded the replacement of underground infrastructure as needed? In addition, the operation of a privately owned system requires a knowledgeable and well trained staff along with proper certifications and experience. This is very important to the successful operation of any system. Finally, at the upper management level, the staff must be in place to oversee the day to day operations of a system including ongoing preventative maintenance and recommendations for future upgrades. Therefore, a future government acquisition should not be considered unless all of the above criteria is met and in place.
In Parish Council District 12, we are not susceptible to the river flooding that our fellow citizens in the far western portions of St Tammany have been experiencing. However, during heavy rains especially heavy downpours that occur quickly we do experience street flooding. When heavy rains do occur, our major drainage canals, lateral drainage, sub surface drainage, and ditches in conjunction with the 5 major pumping stations, as mentioned in the answer to Question #1, combine to move a tremendous amount of rainwater out of our residential and business areas. If heavy rain persists nearly non stop, our Pump Stations can increase to full capacity to correspond to the level of rainfall. In Council District 12, in the last 20+ years, we have mitigated the effects from heavy, severe rain events by improving every aspect of our drainage system. Our main drainage canals are “de snagged” on a regular rotation basis. We’ve added emergency back up generators at Pump Stations. Pump Station controls have been and continue to be elevated to avoid being flooded should a hurricane event occur. Pumping capacity has been significantly increased and pump capacity increases automatically if rainfall increases. In conclusion, we’ve worked diligently, as a Parish and a City, to make progressive improvements to the Council District 12 drainage system. We will continue that effort.