Utilizing parish workers stretches federal dollars

Published 11:45 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Washington Parish officials were thrilled to learn that a federally funded program will allow the upgrading of more than four-dozen single-span bridges that are prone to flooding.

Officials said engineering studies have already been completed for 36 structures scheduled for rebuilding and plans will move forward for the rebuilding of another 11.

This is welcome news for a parish that has endured years of financial hardships but most encouraging is that the plan is to have some of the work completed by parish employees. Already, those Public Works crews have finished several parish-funded bridge-to-culvert structures in and around Bogalusa as well as in Mt. Hermon.

The ability of parish crews to have the capability to do the work cannot be understated. Utilizing parish workers on the job rather than going out for public bid helps stretch those federal dollars, allowing for more bridges to be built or roads to be refurbished.

During President Richard Thomas’ administration road crews have helped save the parish thousands of dollars, whether they were blacktopping roads or rebuilding structures. While some neighboring parishes farm out such work, Thomas utilizes crews that are already on the payroll and under the direction of Director of Public Works Leo Lucchesi.

An important source of revenue for any parish government is the receipt of federal dollars. Understanding how to elasticize those dollars through the crafty use of parish employees and not having to go through the bid process is good stewardship.

The bridge reconstruction project is an example of how the merging of the two can be beneficial and result in more work accomplished with available dollars. Parishes on tight financial leashes are forced to be creative in squeezing the most out of every cent. Few have been as successful, or as innovative, as officials in Washington Parish.