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In the News

Changes approved to Courthouse renovations

By Cyndi Sellers

The Cameron Parish Police Jury on Thursday added its voice to other governmental agencies with a resolution calling for changes in the operation of the Toledo Bend Dam by the Sabine River Authority.

Much of the Johnson Bayou area flooded following Hurricane Harvey, even though there was no storm surge to speak of. Water inundated the marsh, roads and home sites north of Highway 82 for days as rainwater from SE Texas and water released from the Toledo Bend Reservoir overflowed the Sabine River.

Police Jurors voted to advertise speed limit changes on six parish roads in the Little Florida subdivision from 25 miles per hour to 15 m.p.h. The roads are PR 528, PR 529, PR 551, PR 552, PR 558 and PR 559. A vote on the changes will take place at a later meeting, after public comment.

Change orders totaling $59,811 were approved for the Cameron Courthouse renovation project. Architect Randy Goodloe explained that unforeseen conditions have been discovered, including a roof drain in an existing wall that is to be torn out. The roof drain will have to be relocated. Also a large amount of concrete was found where a new exit stair will be built and must be removed.

As the degraded plaster ceilings were removed, it was discovered that the existing concrete floors/ceilings were not thick enough to provide the necessary fire protection rating, Goodloe said. The addition of fireproofing will fix that problem, but will require changes to ceiling plans and windows heights. Yet, without the spray-in fireproofing, the areas involved would have needed sprinklers installed, which would cost up to $200,000.

Interior demolition is pretty complete now, and “there’s not much more to uncover,” he said. He hopes not to be back for more plan changes.

Jurors approved a permit for the “proposed public boat launch, wharf, bulkhead and clearing of tallow trees and scrub brush to provide for parking and recreation area” in Grand Lake. They also approved an appraisal for the Creole Fire Station property, which is now leased, and renewal of the Hackberry Walking Trail and Boat Launch lease.

Board of Review

At a special Board of Review meeting Thursday afternoon, two companies, Kinetica and Alliance Off-shore, LLC, presented arguments as to why their Cameron Parish tax assessments should be lowered.

Kinetica said the gas plant it purchased in 2016 cannot process the amount of gas it is rated for, and asked for a reduction in value based on obsolescence. Assessor Orson Billings said his valuation was based on the purchase price less depreciation, according to the state tax commission’s schedule. The Police Jury supported the Assessor’s valuation.

However, the valuation of two boats owned by Alliance Offshore was more of a problem. The MV Baton Rouge, purchased for $10 million in 2014, had been idled by the oil production downturn, and now is valued by a third party appraiser at only $950,000. It was assessed at $5.9 million, based on standard 20% depreciation. The company asked for a 50% reduction in its assessment, similar to that of Vermilion Parish the previous year.

They sought a similar reduction for another, smaller vessel, the MV Rebel, saying the taxes owed in Cameron Parish would be more than each vessel made during the year, and could be very hard for the company to pay in the current economic climate.

After jurors asked both parties to consult privately, the Assessor and the company’s counsel Eric Trosclair were unable to agree on a compromise figure. Jurors voted to continue the matter without a date.

Jurors then approved the 2017 tax roll, with the understanding that a change order may be necessary on the Alliance matter.

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