State of the parish address - Jury style

Detailing the recent Vermilion Parish Police Jury budget audit and explaining how funds are dispersed between the different departments, Jury Administrator Secretary-Treasurer Chris Theriot, kicked-off the weekly Abbeville Rotary Club meeting.

One of his responsibilities with the jury, he explained, is to find the funding for projects that the jury deems necessary. For example, more than 40 bridges in the parish have been recognized as substandard and in need of repair. Theriot will assist the jurors by providing them information and possible funding sources to correct the bridges.

It is a project, he admits, that isn’t going to get completed overnight especially as costs continue to rise for road construction.

“It costs $1 million for one mile of paved road. At that cost and the parish having 876 miles of roads, there will never be enough money to do it all when we would want to do it.”

Still he told Rotarians that the jury is doing well. Although the greatest amount of funding comes from sales tax, the 2007 budget called for $750,000 in oil in gas revenue. Instead, they collected more than $6 million.

Assisting the discovery for more funds to complete all the projects is Jury President Gerald Butaud.

A new juror himself, Butaud admits he has had to learn about many things in a short period of time. One of those things he has learned is what is important and best for the people of Vermilion Parish and how to start fixing things that are wrong and looking to the future for things that need to be done.

At the last regular meeting of the jury, it was decided to create the Vermilion Parish Hurricane Flood Protection and Drainage District.

“What I realized after the hurricanes, is that each parish that received money were organized. They had some sort of body whether it be levee board or such in place.” Butaud stated.

The new district will be comprised of all 14 jurors.

“We want at least a skeleton in place in case, God forbid, that we should have another hurricane.”

Butaud has also become very involved in hurricane protection and has become another voice for Vermilion Parish to aid the progress of that protection.

“The jury agreed to the Vermilion Parish plan that has been developed and will be submitted to the state for consideration in their plan.”

The plan details a series of “bumps” or barriers as well as well-placed gates in the event of another hurricane that will reduce the destruction of a surge.

Other items that are under discussion and will continue to be until progress is made are overcrowding of the jail, the continuation to to prioritize roads and bridges and economic development.

“I’m of the strong opinion that economic development is the key to all of it. It’s time we get moving - get doing what needs to be done,” he added.

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