The following answers were provided by Jacqueline Carr running for Council District 9 in St. Tammany Parish:
District 9 geography is diverse with open ditches filled with debris, trash and various plant life along the streets and roads interrupting the gravity drainage. Each area of District 9 has a single most important drainage issue which is susceptible of resolution. The St. Tammany Parish Council is the legislative branch of government under the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter and the Administrative branch, the Office of the Parish President, is the division of government to maintain the numerous drainage systems and to propose a comprehensive regional plan to solve each area’s separate drainage issues. The role of a District 9 Councilman is to create drainage projects and to fund the projects through the dedicated drainage millage, Federal and State Grants, and budgeted drainage funds from the General Budget, drainage districts and sub drainage districts. The predominant Eastern Border of District 9 is the West Pearl River and its tributaries. The single most important drainage issue in District 9 would become the proposed plans for the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Jackson, Mississippi, and the State of Mississippi’s plans to alter the West Pearl River, thus creating flood hazards for our entire district.
Economic development in St. Tammany Parish is basically the enhancement of the quality of life of the Citizens of District 9. The driving engine of economic development is the creation of jobs – to raise the financial well being of the citizenry. Slidell Memorial Hospital, a public hospital of the East end of St. Tammany Parish, since 1957, was always known for its gracious Southern hospitality and excellent care of the patient, considered “the people’s hospital.” Slidell Memorial Hospital was for fifty years a “job creator.” Years ago, Slidell Memorial through its staunch citizen support, voted down a proposal to “sell” the hospital to the owners of Northshore, to circumvent a monopoly in the administration of health care. Now, years later, without a vote of the people, the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Board of Slidell Memorial Hospital, together with the blessing of the St. Tammany Parish Council, established a partnership with Oschner Hospital to create a monopoly through the “back door” and is now charging its patients a “room fee”, irrespective of the 7 millage property tax established by a vote of the people to prevent the hospital monopoly. Oschner has also taken over the billing! As a publicly owned hospital, Slidell Memorial is tax exempt. Although not a St. Tammany Parish Council legislative function, I support an increase in the Louisiana Homestead Exemption. Retirees have a guaranteed amount of monthly income to spend through the Social Security stream and the Louisiana Homestead Exemption, which exemption will promote the attractiveness of an area for retirement. Priorities of District 9 should be educational development to support a “high tech” corrider and the re-establishment of the Slidell Vo Tech School. However, District 9 does not have the infrastructure of roads and highways to support continued growth at an accelerated level – cars/trucks will be riding “piggy back.” The East end of St. Tammany Parish has too many tax exemptions for retail space and not enough for recreational purposes to create a resort environment, which is the legacy of St. Tammany Parish – ozone air.
St. Tammany Parish government should carefully scrutinize the acquisition and acceptance into the parish system of private sewage and water systems to prevent an economic burden on the taxpayers for substandard systems. The substandard systems must be rehabilitated at taxpayers’ expense. St. Tammany Parish does not have the resources and expertise to operate and regulate these complicated systems. Private enterprise has a greater ability to operate and maintain sewage and water systems to provide good, clean water and functional plumbing/drainage, at less cost to the taxpayer.
Heavy rain events are a natural occurrence of nature and are becoming more frequent with changes in the environment; science cannot correct these events and Citizens of District 9 are left to cope with the reality of heavy rains. District 9 has been impacted by flash floods and street flooding; however, few homes have experienced the flooding from run off. However, as previously stated in Answer to Question #1, the Administrative Branch of government, the Office of the Parish President, is responsible for mitigating the effects by the maintenance of the drainage systems; the thorough cleaning/removal of all debris, trash, and plant life from the ditches and storm drains to facilitate proper hydrology (removal of water). As a Council Member of District 9, if elected, I can assemble the Citizens of the District to promote education of the proper use of storm drains and ditches to remove run off, and to legislate if additional pumps and lift stations would be helpful in the expedient removal of water.