BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Public meetings on the proposed stormwater utility fee, are canceled after confusion circling around a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Now the question is, what happens to the very real problem of stormwater drainage and Baton Rouge’s flooding issue?
City council members said that even though this is up in the air, they still want to tackle the ongoing problem of stormwater drainage.
The stormwater utility fee may be dead in the water after the truth about a Non-Disclosure Agreement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department was never in place with Baton Rouge city leaders.
“It’s probably going to get removed or deleted,” said Council Member for Dist. 4 Aaron Moak.
For weeks it’s been said that a stormwater fee needed approval to avoid fees from the federal government, but this week it was revealed that there is no deadline from the federal government for the Metro Council.
“I feel like we were sort of misled from the get-go,” said Moak.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome said that she was misinformed about the Non-Disclosure Agreement with federal officials. In a press release, she said in part, “I want the citizens of Baton Rouge to know that my first option is never to place an undue financial burden on them or to be less than transparent.”
“There is some conflicting information out there from the federal, state, and local levels,” said Council Member for Dist. 5 Darryl Hurst.
Mayor Broome is asking the council to remove voting on the fee next week, but council members say it’s not that easy.
“You still have to have a public comment because on the agenda it has been introduced,” said Hurst.
“It will probably make a motion to delete or remove from the item, we still have to have a public discussion on it,” Moak said.
A public hearing and vote will still take place next Wednesday, Oct. 26.
“I can’t say if a council member will want to take it for a complete vote, but if it even does go down that route, it will get voted down,” said Moak.
Councilmembers still want to address the ever-present stormwater drainage problem.
“Is this something that needs to be done? Absolutely,” said Hurst. “We may be going back to the drawing board at square one, we may start at fifty percent and then tweak some things down the road.”