Abbeville Councilman Wayne Landry also know about grass that needs cutting, as he has heard calls from some living in his District D.
“People keep coming to me and asking why some of the streets are not being kept up,” Landry said.
Landry made a motion requesting that some streets in his district be included on the contract the city already has with a lawn company, Allen Contractors.
The Abbeville City Council looked at various scenarios in making it happen. After some discussion, the council voted 3-2 on substitute motion to allow for $27,000 for an annual contract for the upkeep of two streets in Landry’s district. Councilmen Francis Touchet, District B, and Brady Broussard Jr., District C, voted against the move.
Landry’s original motion called for the company to cut Franks Alley, Martin Luther King Drive and the railroad track near Godchaux Street. The cost would have been nearly $40,000.
“How are we going to pay for that?,” Abbeville Mayor Mark Piazza asked during the meeting.
That led to a few ideas as to how to fund the extension of the contract. That including eliminating a position in the city’s street and bridge department, something that did not sit well with Touchet.
“We are fixing to go into a storm season,” Touchet said. “If we keep abolishing these positions, we are going to be looking at a situation. Is part of the (lawn) contract that they will come out and clean limbs off the streets? We only have six (street and bridge) workers. I remember some of the issues we have had (with storms) and the amount of city workers needed to get things off streets to be able to get the electrical crews into an area.
“This needs to be taken care of, but let’s understand that we also have an obligation if something does happen, that we have the amount of workers needed.”
After Landry agreed to take Frank’s Alley off the contract extension, Piazza offered a suggestion so as to cover the $27,000 needed.
“Let’s look at an equipment operator,” Piazza said. “We have a vacancy in the equipment operator one and equipment operator two. The two is partially filled from someone from maintenance (as needed). Eliminating the equipment operator one, you would about break even with salary. I would rather see us do that than eliminate a maintenance worker. We have advertised and tried to fill those vacant equipment operators spots for a long time.”
Landry made the motion to abolish the equipment operator one position, as well as extend the contract with Allen Contractors for $27,000. Councilman Louis Joe Hardy, District A, offered a second. Landry, Hardy and Councilman-at-Large Francis Plaisance voted in favor of the measure.
Plaisance said Wednesday morning that he believes the move is good for the city.
“I’m for contracting as much as we can,” he said. “You are not paying any retirement, worker’s comp or the upkeep of the equipment. To me, its a win-win situation.”
With Tuesday’s addition, the city will play $166,000 annualy for the contracts, to both Allen Contractors and Don’s Lawncare. Don’s handles the By-pass, West Port Street and Hwy. 167. Allen, along with two new streets, handles Charity and South State Street.
Piazza said Wednesday that he is in favor of contract work, but he did echo Touchet’s sentiment from Tuesday’s meeting about the crew, which includes a foreman, a maintenance worker two, and six listed maintenance worker one.
“I’m in favor of it as long as it is financially feasible,” the mayor said. “I am concerned that we are starting to get short-staffed in the street and bridge department. There are other duties besides just cutting grass. They pick up trash, clean catch basins during high rain, clean ditches and flush storm drains around the city. They also assist in cleaning up before and after any festival and special activities in the city.
“The street and bridge road maintenance crew does more than just cut grass. We have to make sure we have the crew to keep up with those other services.”