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In the News

Navigation District negotiating agreement

By Cyndi Sellers

The Calcasieu Cameron Navigation District held its third meeting Monday in Cameron, and discussed the upcoming Cooperative End-eavor Agreement between the CCND and the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District.

Cameron Parish District Attorney Jennifer Jones said language in the agreement had been simplified to include only the requirements of the CCND legislation, but Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District Director Bill Rase asked for language regarding reimbursement for expenses the Port has incurred and will incur in the near future.

The Navigation District legislation make it the “local sponsor” for maintenance and operation of the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District (LC Port) has been the local sponsor since 1962. The legislation requires all property and servitudes acquired by the LC Port for maintenance of the Ship Channel to be turned over to the CCND.

However, the CCND will not have any money to operate until a tax is passed by both Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, so the legislation requires that a CEA be signed between both parties giving the LC Port the responsibility of local sponsor until such time as the tax is passed.

Rase said the LC Port will have to spend a large amount of money over that time to meet the requirements of the Dredge Material Manage-ment Program in improving current spoil disposal sites and acquiring new ones. He asked that language be included in the CEA about reimbursing those expenses once the tax passes.

He said when the Navigation District was first being discussed the expenses were day-to-day type, but the DMMP requirements have increased costs significantly. The LC Port is responsible for 25% of the costs of disposal site maintenance, with the rest covered by the federal government through the Army Corps of Engineers.

Rase said Port costs were estimated at about $3 million per year over a five year period when the DMMP agreement was reached with the Corps of Engineers in 2015, but last year the cost was $5-6 million and this year looks to be closer to $7 million. “We can’t tell the auditors we will just write off $7 million,” he said. “They’d never agree to it.”

He suggested a stair-step payment plan over time. Port attorney John Ringo suggested the repayment could be contingent on the tax passage. Rase and Charles Harper were appointed to a committee to work out details before the next meeting, Feb. 4.

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