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Council to hire ED firm

Posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

In a close vote, the Louisiana City Council decided Monday, Aug. 11 to negotiate a contract with an economic development consulting firm.
Mayor Bart Niedner established a priority when he took over in April to hire a firm or an economic developer for the city, but his wish just made it.
Council members Kathy Smith, Neil Darnell, Jeff Guay, Chuck Hoffman and Lori Helkey voted to negotiate a contract with Community Edge, of St. Charles. That was the mayor’s preferred firm of three proposals received by the city.
Voting against it were council members Don Oakley, Tim Carter and Russell Stephens.
Carter and Stephens said they voted against  entering negotiations because there wasn’t a stipulation to pay Community Edge in increments based on achievement assessments of as a one-year contract progresses.
Oakley said he didn’t think Community Edge’s proposal was thorough and that the council was simply not prepared to deal with what they might propose.
The council earlier budgeted $58,500 to hire a firm or an economic development employee.
City employees
get raise
The council voted unanimously to give city employees a two percent raise based on money saved in the restructuring of the police department after Chief Rich Hughes’ death.
The almost $25,000 needed to fund the raises over the final nine months of the fiscal year also came from a unanimous vote to turn the city treasurer’s position into a part-time job.
Just before recently leaving the city for another job, Renae Johnson told Niedner the position could be done on a part-time basis, the mayor said.
Water rate
The city is getting closer to charging higher rates for industrial water users to recoup the cost of providing it.
An analysis showed the city has been charging $2.80 per 1,000 gallons for the two biggest industrial users,  Stark Bro’s and the Pike County Water Supply District. It costs approximately $3.83 per 1,000 gallons to produce it for them.
Stark Bro’s representative Ken Lane said the firm considers itself a good neighbor to Louisiana and understands the city’s need to cover its costs. Lane added Stark Bro’s would like to see any water rate increases phased in over a three to four year period in order for the firm to adjust gradually.
Niedner said he and Stephens will be meeting with the water district board to discuss the situation. The mayor expects to have a final new rate number for the council to deal with in September.
The council also voted unanimously to charge a $15 per month flat rate to consumers beyond the city limits. The previous rate had been 25 percent of the bill.
Nuisance declared
The board voted unanimously to declare the lot at 500 Douglas Street a public nuisance.
That will allow the city to go through the legal system to clean it up. The city has been unable to find the lot owners.
Building permit
to be issued
Niedner announced that Doug Dempsey will be issued a new, six-month permit to continue his work on the downtown building at 314 Georgia Street.
An engineering report showed the building was fixable but a new concrete block wall Dempsey installed needs to be tied in with the existing outside brick wall, according to City Administrator Bob Jenne.
The city had earlier tried to stop Dempsey’s work but backed off when officials realized his initial permit was issued outside of city policies.