EBR metro council unanimously votes to delete controversial stormwater utility fee
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Metro Council unanimously voted to delete the controversial stormwater utility fee proposal, and reject the plan at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26.
The original plan was created to pay for stormwater drainage improvement across the city-parish, but the proposal faced public scrutiny amid an alleged miscommunication regarding a non-disclosure agreement tied to the plan.
Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome doubled down at the meeting that she was not trying to mislead anyone.
“There was never any attempt to deceive or to do anything that was unethical. All we were trying to do was comply,” Broome said.
The mayor’s office placed blame on Parish Attorney Andy Dotson and his office for the confusion, but he denied any wrongdoing.
“I think y’all took whatever information, or someone took whatever information and went to talking with other people. That’s not something we can be held responsible for. The moment I felt like there was something out there that came that was being distributed indirectly is when my office went to making sure we needed to correct it,” Dotson said.
WAFB attempted to question Dotson about the debacle to get more clarity, but the only answer he provided was “no comment.”
Dotson’s future was also called into question at the meeting after Councilman Cleve Dunn called an emergency item to discuss removing the parish attorney from his post, but the motion was blocked by other council members.
Dunn declined to comment after the meeting, but his colleagues explained why they felt firing Dotson is premature at this time.
“We don’t need to jump the gun too quick. We still need to gather all the facts and information,” councilman Aaron Moak said.
Councilmembers we spoke with called the meeting a success, but they feel there are still a lot of questions that need answers.
“Let’s involve our federal partners. We have good partners, good relationships there, lets involve them, let’s get together as a group and find a way to address this problem,” councilman Dwight Hudson said.
“We can’t turn back the hands of time. There were lots of missteps, but at the end of the day, I think we can move forward,” councilwoman Chauna Banks said.
“I still think we have another couple of these meetings as far as what we do as a council, and I think there’s more questions of other people below the mayor and below the parish attorney,” Moak said.
Dunn did confirm with WAFB that he has reintroduced the item to address the parish attorney’s future for the next Metro Council meeting.
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