Following the swearing-in of the Port Allen City Council and Mayor Richard Lee by District Attorney-elect Tony Clayton, the City Council held its first committee meeting of 2021 to set the agenda for the first regular meeting of 2021 on Wednesday, January 13.
New councilmember Charlene Gordon was selected as the Chairperson for the Public Works Committee. Her fellow new councilmember Clerice Lacy will head the Finance Committee as Chairperson. Councilmember Hugh Riviere is Chairperson of the Public Safety Committee, Councilmember Brandon Brown serves as Chairperson of the Community Development Committee and Councilman Garry Hubble serves as Chairperson of the Personnel Committee.
Items to be addressed in the first regular meeting include:
Port Allen Road Rehab & LGAP Grant Application
City Engineer Tony Arikol announced PEC won the bid for Phase Four of the city's road rehabilitation program. He also urged the City Council to consider approving a resolution authorizing Mayor Lee to apply for the Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) grant, which provides financial assistance to local governments for infrastructure projects. The resolution will not include specific projects to be included in the application, as LGAP will request that information following the completion of the first step in the application process.
Openings in the Port Allen Police Department
New Port Allen Police Chief Corey Hicks requested the City Council to consider approving his request to advertise for one opening in the Port Allen Police Department following the resignation of two officers who resigned alongside former Police Chief Esdron Brown at the end of 2020. Hicks plans to hire Noland Duhon to fill one of those positions.
Hicks also announced his plans to promote Sgt. Casey Williams to the position of Captain within the department. Williams has served with the PAPD for 10 years and as a shift supervisor for six years.
"An outstanding gentleman, great guy, and I believe he deserves that promotion," Hicks told the council committee. The promotion will require an amendment to the PAPD budget, which will require approval by the Mayor and City Council at next week's meeting.
Finance Chairperson Clerice Lacy fulfilled the Chief's request, asking for the budget request to be put on next week's agenda. The budget request includes Sgt. Williams's promotion and the promotion of Corporal Donovon Mitchell and Clint Walker to sergeant positions.
Proposed changes to alcohol licensing
Councilman Hugh Riviere proposed changes to the City's alcohol licensing policy for bars affected by mandatory closure orders amid the coronavirus pandemic. Riviere proposed a "rough draft" addition to the city's licensing ordinance, which reads:
"If a bar faces an extended government-mandated closure over 30 days in a calendar year because of a pandemic or other public health emergency, the $500 cost of the city liquor license shall be pro-rated based on the actual length of the government-forced closure. Any city license fees paid by the bar prior to the forced closure shall be refunded based on the pro-rated schedule."
For nearly nine months of 2020, local bars were forced to shut their doors due to mandated mitigation measures of the coronavirus pandemic. Riviere said the addition would exclude restaurants, as they were able to operate and generate income throughout the pandemic.
"We're a small town. We all know everybody, and they've suffered some pretty serious hardship through no fault of their own," Riviere said.
Mayor Lee suggested also including a pro-rated fee for bars that open close to the end of the year.
Further discussion is expected at next week's meeting before a vote on the amendment to the city's alcohol licensing ordinance. Riviere said he is open to changes and recommendations on the proposal.
"This is just the first step to get us moving down that road," he said.
Watch the full swearing-in ceremony and committee meetings here: