Despite resolution, city will not seek Roosevelt bids

Published 1:17 am Saturday, September 24, 2016

Although on Tuesday the Bogalusa City Council passed a resolution 5-2 to request prices for overlaying the 1400 to 1500 block of North Roosevelt, city leaders say it would be illegal under state law.

Director of Public Works James Hall said the law is clear — governments cannot request bids for projects they cannot afford.

“You have to have the money to do the work,” he said. “You can’t just go out to get bids unless you have money to do the job.”

Hall estimates overlaying the section of North Roosevelt to come in at $50,000 and he said the city does not have the funding.

Bogalusa City Council member Gloria Kates argues that state law indicates governments do not have to get bids for projects that are less than $150,000. She said her resolution only obligates the city to informally shop around for a good deal.

When asked why the city would shop around for something when it has no money to buy it, she said, “I would just say clarification has to be made.”

When asked for clarification, Kates added, “That’s the only comment I have at this point.”

But Bogalusa Purchasing Agent Tracy Arnold said nobody in the city is going to shop around for something the city cannot afford.

“If we’re not actively going to pursue it, that’s a waste of time. I promise I got way more stuff to do,” she said.

Kates has said in the past she doubts the project would cost $50,000, but Washington Parish transportation manager Donnell Merritt said Hall’s estimate seems right to him.

“That’s gonna be in the ballpark,” he said. “It would be $21,700 just for the material. That’s no labor or anything. By the time he’s contracted someone to do it, he’s looking at somewhere around $50,000.”

Even so, the issue is not likely to go away anytime soon.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Kates argued that the rocks and dust from a recent repair are hazardous to the health and safety of the city. As evidence, she presented the board with testimonials from 11 area residents and two of them specifically complained about breathing difficulties.

The parish road crew repaired the road in June, and they used a three-shot process, which means the road should last longer than a blacktopped road. Merritt has said in the past that the problems with the dust and gravel will go away on their own after six to eight months, meaning the problems could be gone by February.

Merritt has also said the city could seal it, but that would still require waiting until February.

However, in an interview afterward, Kates said if the city doesn’t fix the street soon, she may seek help elsewhere.

“We’re going to have to bring someone else in here to do the bid,” she said. “It’s two-tenths of a block, come on now … We’re going to have to get the governor involved, or the (Southern) Poverty Law Center.”