LIVINGSTON - The parish councilman who first pushed for a master plan committee is now entering a pivot moment.
Tracy Girlinghouse, councilman for District 7 and original proponent of a Master Plan Committee, will introduce an ordinance at the parish council Thursday night to adopt the 'Envision Livingston' Master Plan from 2013.
This time, however, it would be by ordinance and not resolution. Resolutions are non-binding agreements. The public hearing for the ordinance will occur, if introduced, at the September 12th meeting of the council.
The move comes just two weeks after the Master Plan Committee finally had their meeting with Mark Harrell, director of Emergency Preparedness for the parish and the source of most Livingston grants. During that meeting, the committee questioned Harrell as to the availability of funds for a Master Plan - to which Harrell said grants would be available.
The price tag, however, continued to rise. Girlinghouse, and several council members, had originally intended the committee to tackle zoning and then look to other avenues - including parish wide drainage and, recently, sewer.
Zoning, according to Harrell, would be the cheapest piece of the puzzle - maybe $400,000 to $500,000 he said. However, he also said that grants were not available for updating a Master Plan - like the parish's 2013 version - so the document would have to be rebuilt, from scratch.
Both parish wide drainage and sewer would require engineers, which pushes prices upward, Harrell said. By the time the director of emergency preparedness had walked the committee through the process, the price tag was north of $1.5 million - putting the parish under the gun for $375,000 on a 75-25 matching grant.
Harrell did say that he believed funds would be available through the Community Development Block Grant that was recently announced, which would send $1.3 billion in grant funds to Louisiana for distribution for a wide variety of projects.
The committee would have to get the parish president and finance director on board, he said, and then pursue the grant. The caveat to the presentation was, if the committee could not get the full council to adopt any piece of the master plan by ordinance - they'd own the money back, in full.
"I'm not going to be on the hook for $1.5 or $2 million dollars," Harrell said.
When questioned about timing, Harrell said it could be a year or more before the committee had a running draft of a new master plan - one that would not be ready for presentation. He also said the committee would
Both the amount of time it would take and the potential funding total pushed Girlinghouse to make his decision to propose the council adopt the old master plan, stating that the group would adjust as needed after it's adopted.
The funding was an even bigger issue.
"That's a big decision to put on a group that has to present something we might not adopt," Girlinghouse said. "This is the responsibility of the council."
The public hearing will take place at 6:15 p.m., Thursday, September 12th, in the parish council chambers.