Mansura addresses main audit issue

Discusses public swimming pool, Bayou Lacombe maintenance


   Now that Mansura has raised its sewer rates, the town should be in full compliance in its financial audit, the Town Council was told at its meeting Nov. 14. Seth Norris, of Kolder-Champagne-Slaven & Co., presented the audit for the 2015-16 budget year.
   Overall, the town is in good financial condition with no problems to cause concern, Norris said. The only compliance issue dealt with the Sewer Department, where revenues were too low to meet state requirements for a town bond issue. The Town Council addressed that matter earlier this year by raising the sewer rates to raise sufficient revenues to comply with the bond requirements.
   Norris said the state requires a utility department to bring in not only enough revenue to cover its operating expenses, but also an additional 20 percent for emergencies.
  “Your obligations were being met, but it was with transfers from other revenues and not from revenues in the Sewer Department,” Norris said.
   With the rate increase, he said that compliance issue will not be on the 2016-17 audit.
   In a related matter, the council asked that LAWCO -- the private company that provides water service to the municipality -- be instructed to provide documentation on sewer billing and collection for several commercial customers.
   Mayor Kenneth Pickett said that sewer fees are based on water consumption, and the bills for some customers do not appear to be following that method of determining the sewer bill.
   In another financial issue, the council approved appropriating $450 for candy and other costs for the annual Christmas Parade, which will be at 10 a.m. on Dec. 3.
Public swimming pool
   In another matter, town resident Rashad Qaasim said he played basketball at Mansura High and then moved away for 41 years, “but Mansura has always been my home.”
  He said that while looking around the town, he said he saw the need for two improvements -- recreation and busing. Qaasim said he would not discuss the bus issue at that meeting, but did want to ask the council to seriously consider improving recreation facilities in the town.
   In particular, Qaasim said, “Mansura needs a swimming pool.”
  He said he was not asking the Town Council to commit any money, nor was he asking the town to donate public property for a private entity or non-profit organization to build and operate the pool.
   “If the town provides the property, I can get an indoor pool built that our senior citizens, our children, everybody can use,” Qaasim said. “It could be a valuable asset to the town.”
He said the facility would be owned by the town, but would be constructed through private donations and/or grants. He also envisions much of the work being done by volunteers.
His idea calls for a “booster club” to run the pool at no cost to the town.
   The proposal was presented solely to begin the thinking process and required no action by the council.
Bayou Lacombe
   There was also a brief discussion on the recurring issue of who has responsibility for maintaining the banks of Bayou Lacombe. Residents often complain about the growth of vegetation along the bayou.
   Pickett said it is definitely not the town’s responsibility. He believes it is the Police Jury’s obligation because Bayou Lacombe is a parish drainageway and the recent grant to clean out the bayou was awarded to the Police Jury.
   The Police Jury has said the property along the bayou is owned by private landowners and is not parish property. The parish would have to have permission to go on that property even if it were inclined to undertake routine bank maintenance with parish employees -- which it is not.
   The Bayou Lacombe issue pops up periodically with the end result always being a Mexican stand-off with fingers pointed at private landowners, the Police Jury and the municipality.
   Meanwhile, the grass keeps growing.