Parish Councilman Randy Delatte - District 8

Parish Councilman Randy Delatte - District 8

Sewer issues are not unfamiliar territory for the parish council.

During the second half of 2019, for example, much of the conversation - especially in ordinance committee - revolved around grinder pumps, a sewer implement that performs the same job it's name suggests. The first half of 2019 was focused on finding new language for the sewer ordinance parish-wide, specifically with regard to package plants.

Now, a recently elected councilman has brought some other sewer-based issues to the board in hopes of finding a solution to the problem.

Randy Delatte, of District 8, asked for the council to consider investigating the permitting process for sewer inspections, with regard to turning on the electricity. The two are connected in that new residents, and new tenants for rental property, must visit the permit office to receive an electricity permit - which requires an 'all clear' from the health unit on the sewer system.

According to Steve McDaniel, who owns a large amount of rental homes in Livingston Parish and testified Thursday night, inspections on sewer systems could take up to 10 days to be completed. In some cases, they occur within hours.

Those that occur within hours, said Taryn Creekbaum, usually mean an inspector never came. Creekbaum also owns rental property in Livingston Parish, and said that she's heard that re-certification for sewer systems at the state level last for six-to-eight years, whereas in Livingston Parish she's been told it's "one or two."

"I've heard both (time frames)," she added.

Creekbaum also expressed concern that someone is 'making money' of the system of transactions that have to occur between the health unit and the permit office. In many cases, when an inspector does show up at one of her rental properties, there's invariably a problem she must fix before her tenant can get the power turned on.

McDaniel said he's experienced similar issues, even if the sewer system had been inspected for the tenant just before - which would be within just a few months, he said.

Both agreed that's what causes the expenses to stack up quickly - constant tenant turnover combined with constant necessity to upgrade or fix a sewer system. Most systems in question are stand-alone, mechanical services.

A landlord by the name of John Goodwin testified third, and said that the man who created the sewer ordinance - nor his boss - were present. Goodwin added that inspection times have become a major issue, adding also that paperwork problems between the two parish offices can hold up Entergy or DEMCO from turning the power on.

And it's usually up to the landlord to fix the problem, he added.

Councilman Maurice 'Scooter' Keen suggested that a new ordinance, focused on the process and making sure inspections and re-certifications last longer, could reduce inspection times because the total number of inspections would be reduced, opening up slots for limited inspectors.

Delatte eventually asked to find whoever wrote the ordinance to attend and explain it's purpose, and for the council to work on finding a resolution that made sense - either go with a time limit, or personal reporting.

"There's no reason to inspect every time there's a (change of tenant)," Delatte said, "we're the only parish that does it, and it's cumbersome."

TARGETTING

Delatte, however, didn't stop there. The new councilman from District 8 was also concerned about potential changes to the state-level, sewer inspection protocols through the Department of Health and Hospitals.

Delatte began his portion of the testimony by citing an inspection done on a restaurant in the Maurepas area. The business had a personal sewer system for 40 years that had passed inspection, but suddenly an inspector from DHH arrived and said he was there to 'make a routine inspection.'

During the meeting, it was learned that Delatte was citing Red's. During the inspection, ownership was alerted that their person sewer system did not meet code and would have to be replaced. That cost was estimated at $60,000, with $500-$600 a year in maintenance.

Delatte said the inspectors then hit several other businesses, but not concurrently, along an 8-mile stretch of road.

"I think we're being targeted in Livingston Parish," Delatte said.

Councilman Garry 'Frog' Talbert suggested that the council reach out to the Department of Health and Hospitals to seek guidance on potential changes to their personal sewer inspection policy.

"This all flows downhill," Talbert explained to Delatte, which a chuckle, "if we send a letter, someone will end up in front of (the council)."

Parish Council chairman Shane Mack (District 9) also volunteered to contact the DHH inspector.

The council unanimously passed a resolution to send to DHH requesting inspectors and a director come for testimony on new inspection practices. The council will meet at their new time, 6 p.m., on Feb. 27 at the Livingston Parish Council Chambers.

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