A packed council meeting was treated to a rigorous debate involving problems raised about a recreation district’s behavior. The council reached a decision to seek legal opinion on course of action.
Councilwoman Jessica Domangue laid out the issues that Rec 11 did not deny committing, Wednesday night at the council meeting, and proposed dissolving the board. This led to a heated debate among the councilmembers about the future existence, or lack thereof, of Recreation District 11.
“Logically, if this board is not maintaining property or working on capital expenditures,” said Domangue, “what is its purpose?”
The catalyst of this discussion was a letter from Parish President Gordon Dove to Rec 11, and a response letter. Dove’s letter laid out numerous possible problems. The response letter corrected some, and acknowledged others of these as occurring, followed by proposed solutions.
One issue was the budget – which Dove’s letter said, and Domangue read – was unsustainable. Kandace Mauldin, Terrebonne Parish Chief Finance Officer, said she calculated and confirmed that if spending remained the same, Rec 11 would be in a deficit by 2023.
Rec 11 Board Chairman, Ronald Rainey, spoke after the discussion among councilmembers. He said the problems carried over from the previous board.
“We inherited the mess, and we’re trying to clean it up,” he said.
According to Rainey, the board was cutting activities to clean up the budget, “we’re supposed to maintain the facility, not the activities,” he said.
Councilman Gerald Michel asked if this could be turned around. Mauldin said there were definitely savings which could be enacted, but she’d have to take a hard look at it.
Councilman Carl Harding said that the Council was supposed to have oversight, maybe they should be carrying out that responsibility. Councilman Darrin Guidry, then asked Mauldin why the issues weren’t being told to them.
Mauldin confirmed the Board was under oversight. She said the project proposals were sent to her department, but building of said projects were being completed before she could confirm or deny the projects.
“So that is how the oversight is technically written,” said Mauldin. “Is it happening that way? No sir.”
According to Legal Counsel Jules Hebert, the Council had complete authority over the Board. He then laid out suggestions: abolishment of the district, passing of ordinances, removal or replacement of the board, or give Dove control over it.
“The recreation boards are extensions of the Council,” said Hebert. “If you want to control it, just tighten the belt some more.”
It was raised, between councilmembers and Mauldin, that it was unstated who she was supposed to report problems to.
Darrin Guidry defended board members, saying he thought they were good people, but the system that they operate under failed.
Following Darrin Guidry, Harding said that if the board members weren’t responding to oversight, remove them: “if the manager’s not doing their job – fire them.”
Councilman John Amedee said he wanted to preserve the board. The board had new members, and Amedee said he thought the members were working hard to fix the problems.
“With a little work, and effort, these issues can be resolved,” said Amedee.