Judge refuses to block vote on Ascension sewer system

Judge rules parish council can move forward with vote on Ascension sewer system

ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - On Friday, Dec. 20, a district court judge denied a restraining order that would have temporarily prevented the Ascension Parish Council from taking a vote on a plan to revamp the parish’s sewer system.

23rd Judicial District Judge Jessie LeBlanc made the ruling just minutes before the council was set to gather at 6 p.m. Friday.

The council was scheduled to meet Friday to vote on a proposed 30-year contract that would combine sewer service in the Dutchtown, Prairieville, and Gonzales areas.

The deal with Ascension Sewer, llc., a consortium of Bernhard Capital Partners and Ascension Wastewater Treatment, would involve building one new regional plant in the Geismar area to replace dozens of small, neighborhood-sized treatment plants in eastern Ascension, The Advocate newspaper reports.

There is heavy opposition to the new system, particularly the fact that it comes with an immediate rate increase for customers. Residential customers would have to pay $57.90 per month, with an annual increase of 4% for ten years. Commercial customers would pay even more. Some have questioned why outgoing Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa does not put off a vote on the issue until the next parish president is sworn in Jan. 6.

Sean Dardeau, a resident of Ascension Parish, filed suit against the parish council Monday, Dec. 16 in order to halt a vote that was supposed to take place that same day. A judge issued a temporary restraining order, stopping the council from proceeding with any votes, hearings, comments, approval, or progress on the plan until a hearing on Jan. 7, 2020. However, a state appellate panel overturned that. Dardeau and his attorney, Jean Paul Robert, then filed a new temporary restraining order request that was more detailed.

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