Council holds emergency meeting: After floods, meeting held to fast-track senior center repairs

Published 6:53 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Bogalusa City Council held an emergency meeting Thursday evening in order to allow the mayor to enter into a contract with Excalibur International, LLC, a contracting firm that will repair the senior center.

The council had not planned on approving the contract until September but city attorney Dale Branch informed the council that the city engineer got an email from the contractor alerting the city that unless it approved the contract immediately, the company would withdraw its bid. The reason the contractor was prepared to withdraw the bid is because there is expected to be a demand for building contractors in the coming days as the Baton Rouge area rebuilds following severe flooding. According to estimates, 40,000 homes have been damaged and Thursday council members expressed concern that unless the city inked the deal now, prices on goods and services would greatly increase. In addition, if the contractor backed out, the city could face delays in repairs to the building. As it stands, the senior center is expected to re-open next month.

The senior center was itself damaged by floodwaters following the March 11 flooding this year. Since then, its doors have been shut and services to seniors have been handled through ESM United Methodist Church. However, Mayor Wendy Perrette said it’s important the city re-open its senior center.

“Our senior citizens building is of vital importance to the community,” said the mayor. “It’s just important that we’re able to service our senior citizens and we think it’s an urgent matter.”

Branch told the council that the contractor claimed it had gotten approval to withdraw the bid from the attorney general’s office. However, Branch said he was unable to verify this.

“I have tried to get in touch with they attorney general’s office,” Branch said. “They’re pretty much shut down. Most of the people in Baton Rouge were flooded. … I have left voicemails three times, but they’ve not returned my call.”

However, Branch said there is no harm in entering into a contract ahead of schedule.

“From a legal standpoint I don’t see a downside to it,” he said.

Although Councilman Brian McCree was absent, all other council members agreed the issue was important and voted to allow the mayor to enter into a contract with Excalibur.

However, this will not be the end of the issue. Branch said it is customary for the council to vote on anything they approve in emergency meetings a second time in the regular public meeting. Therefore, the council is expected to vote to approve the contract once again in September.

Bids for the repairs were opened on Aug. 2, and Excalibur International was the low bidder at $109,917.