Brudd meets grant conditions; Police Jury avoids default


   After months of fretting and almost giving up, the Avoyelles Police Jury received welcome word recently that Brudd Construction has met all requirements of the state Economic Development grant and the parish is no longer faced with the prospect of repaying approximately $180,000 of that grant.
   “I’m so happy,” Police Jury President Charles Jones said. “The best thing about this news is that as soon as we close out the grant project, we can begin looking at developing another economic development project.”
   The Louisiana Community Development Block Grant for the Avoyelles Port and Brudd Construction was approved in 2010 and the project began in 2011. A key requirement of the grant was that Brudd create 27 permanent new jobs through the work funded by the grant.
   There were several delays and Brudd was given a three-year extension, which expires in January. As of last month, Brudd had only added nine permanent new jobs. The grant had a penalty clause that would require the grant recipient -- the Police Jury -- to reimburse the state $10,000 for every job it fell short of the required 27.
   Jones met Oct. 26 with District Attorney Charles Riddle, Brad Augustine of Brudd Construction and consultants working on the issue. Augustine told the group that Brudd had “met the required manpower level, as required by contract.”
    The documentation was submitted to the state Office of Community Development and was accepted.
    The Police Jury received a letter on Oct. 27 from LCDBG Program Director Carol Newton stating “all requirements of this grant have been met and the parish can proceed with closeout.”
    “It is commendable to all concerned, especially Brudd Construction,” Jones said. 
    State Rep. Robert Johnson said he had also been in contact with state officials and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s office concerning issues in the case.
   “There is still a federal IRS lien against a subcontractor that has to be cleared,” Johnson said. “Rep. Abraham’s office said they will work with the parish on resolving that.”
   Johnson said the parish owes the subcontractor for work done on the Brudd project, but has not paid it due to the IRS lien. He said the parish would like to pay that amount directly to the IRS and receive at least a “partial clearance” of the lien that would enable the Police Jury to apply for future Community Development Block grants.
   The seemingly unsolvable problem was resolved after “a lot of us put our heads together to find a solution,” Johnson said. “When you work together, things get done.”