Henderson Council wants accountability in Basin
1ST MEETING – The Henderson Town Council meeting Monday, July 11, included two newly sworn-in members: Wil White (left) and Nita Berard.(Karl Jeter)
With a vote of the Town Council Monday, Henderson joined St. Martin Parish in asking the state to explore the question of mineral royalty payments in the Atchafalaya Basin.
Chris Tauzin, the town’s representative on the Parish Council, set the issue in motion last week with a parish-level proposal to encourage the state to investigate questioned ownership and mineral rights of payment recipients.
Basin commercial fishermen like Henderson Councilman Jody Meche maintain that errors in payments are costing the state and parish a fortune. Long-term efforts to bring the problem to the attention of authorities by another Basin fisherman, Ben Bienvenu of Catahoula, have – until recently, – fallen on deaf ears with officials at all levels.
Meche said that the opaque nature of business dealings in the Basin have also hampered efforts to protect the swamp from destruction caused by operations such as logging of cypress. Domination of the Basin by unaccountable corporate entities, critics claim, has come at the expense of non-destructive recreational and traditional uses and threatens the future of the Basin’s fragile environment.
In other business, the council adopted an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $925,000 of sales tax bonds. The funds will finance the northern extension of the town’s sewer system to the annexed area north of I-10.
The lowest of three bidders, Farmers-Merchants Bank, was awarded the contract for most of the bond amount at an interest rate of 3.45 percent. But $231,000 of the amount will be secured at a lower rate through the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority.
The meeting was the first to include two newly elected council members, Wil White and Nita Berard.