BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says she was misinformed about federal involvement related to stormwater plan Non-Disclosure Agreement.
For weeks, city officials have said federal regulators are pushing the city to impose a new stormwater utility fee on residents. Officials said they couldn’t say much because of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. On Tuesday a spokesperson with the city parish says there was never an NDA in place.
Now, Broome is asking the East Baton Rouge metro council to remove this item from next week’s agenda.
Before the mayor’s request, Councilman Aaron Moak said he needed more transparency from the city before making a vote.
“I am very angry, upset,” said Moak. “It’s time to shut this down and back off and regroup and see what we need to do and lets open up the transparency and put all the information out there.”
Councilwoman Laurie Adams and Jen Racca took to social media earlier in the day to say they will be voting against the fee.
On Tuesday, Congressman Garret Graves said that he spoke with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department. They tell him there was never an NDA in place. And that there is no deadline by the federal government for metro council to approve the fee.
“I’m curious to where the confusion came out before where the NDA was reported to be required by the federal government,” said Graves.
In response, the city-parish released a statement. It says in part “No state or federal governmental agency has required the City-Parish to execute a Non-Disclosure Agreement or confidentiality agreement as it pertains to stormwater compliance.”
Graves says in light of the confusion, he hopes the council will push back the vote.
“Sounds to me like this should take kind of the handcuffs off the city-parish and answer more information about what the plan is that they actually want to implement,” said Graves.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome makes a statement regarding the stormwater issue. Read her words below.
Today, a series of events have unfolded regarding the City-Parish effort to address compliance issues related to stormwater management. This issue at hand is more complex than a tweet or sound bite.
The truth of the matter is, this is a decades old issue that my administration has sought to resolve. However, we can’t do this alone. The compliance and legal components are addressed in consultation with the Parish Attorney’s office.
My administration has been under their advisement on how to negotiate settlements with the federal government, including the recommendation to enter into a non-disclosure agreement.
As the parish’s chief legal counsel, we rely on the information they provide regarding the details of the NDA and its parties.
Unfortunately, an assessment of that information and that which has come to light today, has led me to the conclusion that I was misinformed regarding the federal involvement related to the NDA.
I want the citizens of Baton Rouge to know that my first option is never to place undue financial burden on them or to be less than transparent.
To that end, I am asking that this matter be removed from the council agenda until we obtain the full facts and that the metropolitan council join me in seeking answers from the parish attorney’s office and staff of the Office of the Mayor-President.
I want to ensure you I have always, and will remain committed to be, honest, open and transparent with the public on any matter relating to City-Parish government.Statement by Mayor Broome