City could do better at communicating

Published 4:11 am Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter to address my concerns over the City of Bogalusa’s Public Hearing on the recent Richardson Town CDBG Water Project in District C.

In 2015, I wrote a letter of concern to Mayor Wendy Perrette, regarding the paramount importance of citizen participation in the Citizen Participation Requirement. Specifically, it is stated that compliance reduces the number of legal challenges and citizen complaints against the local government recipient. Further, the government requirement states local governments must provide citizens with reasonable advance notice of and opportunity to comment on proposed activities in an application to the state.

For grants already made, the same opportunities must be provided for activities proposed to be added, deleted or substantially changed from the local government’s application to the state. The information also states the primary goal is to provide citizens — especially low and moderate income citizens of the community where CDBG-funded activities will take place — an opportunity to participate in an advisory role in the planning, implementation, and assessment of the programs and projects.

Let me say here, I agree with Mayor Perrette that all residents of Bogalusa need and deserve clean drinking water. However, in my opinion there are very few people — if any, including me — who drink the water provided to us from our faucets. The citizens and residents of Bogalusa should have a voice in these types of projects in the City of Bogalusa. And the city is required by law to provide an opportunity for citizens to give and speak their opinions on these projects. I voiced these concerns at the last Bogalusa City Council meeting.

The requirement for public hearing notification to the public in the local newspaper may have been met; however, there are many local residents who do not read or subscribe to the newspaper. Moreover, applicants for the CDBG funds must make every effort to inform those who might not be reached through the newspaper. And, in addition, applicants must take appropriate affirmative actions to make the scheduling known to low and moderate-income residents. Under the Citizen Participation Plan it clearly states: Citizen Participation Plan vs. Public Hearings, the two are not the same. Hearings are simply a component of the Plan. Hearings are the culmination of the Plan and doing one is not doing the other.

Currently, there is a tremendous amount of concern and conversation on the deplorable condition of Bogalusa street conditions, vacant and blighted housing and of course our schools. In my opinion, it may be ideal to hold citizen participation meetings on any proposed plans to acquire CDBG or any other state or federal government funding to address community development and housing needs, the proposed activities for projects and amount to be requested for projects, the proposed amount of funds to be used to benefit low-and-moderate-income people and whether any persons will be displaced as a result of the proposed activities.

We live in a democracy and our government is by the people and for the people — the process of public participation and inclusion ensures success.

Emma Dixon