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Parish, state losing Basin royalties?

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BASIN FISHERMAN Ben Bienvenu addresses the Parish Council on his concerns about Atchafalaya Basin mineral royalties. He claims the state and parish are losing big money. (Karl Jeter)

Karl Jeter

For many years, commercial fisherman Ben Bienvenu of Catahoula has advocated taking a hard look at recipients of mineral royalties in the Atchafalaya Basin.
In many cases, according to Bienvenu, royalties for the extraction of resources have been paid to people who do not actually own the land they collect royalties on. Such payments, if made in error, result in a loss of revenues to both the state and St. Martin Parish.
Bienvenu suggested during a St. Martin Parish Council meeting last week that revenue losses to the parish could approach the yearly cap of $1.85 million allowed under existing laws. Losses to the state, however, are difficult to estimate. The production royalties are paid by private individuals and oil companies. Significant portions of the water bottom belong to the state or parish, not private individuals.
The council unanimously approved a resolution urging the state to review ownership status of recipients and take measures to recover any payments made in error. Bienvenu thanked the council for their action.
In other business, the council approved the recently-completed revamping of voting precincts in the parish. Smaller precincts are to be combined or consolidated, eliminating nine of the 60 existing precincts to reduce costs.
District 5 Councilman Chris Tauzin reported to the council about efforts to improve the worsening problem of litter in the parish. A proposal from State Sen. Fred Mills, if approved, will enable certain offenders to serve sentences picking up trash in lieu of jail time. Upon passage, St. Martin Parish will be the location of a one-year test of the state-wide initiative.
Also, Tauzin proposed a resolution supporting a “gender identity at birth” bill, restricting transgender access to rest rooms and other public facilities.

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