$4.7 Million Drainage Fund Unused

By  | 

No Plan and No Expenditure of Dedicated Funds

    Thousands of Central homes flooded last August for two reasons: record crests on the Amite and Comite Rivers, and record rainfall which overwhelmed Central’s local drainage systems. At that same time, $4 million of dedicated drainage improvement funds sat idle in the city’s bank account with no plan for its use. 
    The flooding of “Flash Flood Friday,” a full day before the cresting of the rivers, was due solely to the inability of Central’s storm drains, culverts, canals, and bayous to handle the record rainfall. The number of homes that might have been spared had the local drainage system been better is unknown, but over the past two years the City of Central has not budgeted or spent any of the $4.7 million dollars dedicated to drainage improvements, and has produced no plan to do so.
    Central’s Mayor Junior Shelton, in his 2014 mayoral campaign, was critical of the city’s lack of a comprehensive drainage plan, and repeatedly promised to use the dedicated drainage improvement funds to create a comprehensive drainage plan and to make improvements. Shelton stated “This plan is a must for the citizens and is in my top three items of my Plan of Action.” Now in the third year of his term, Mayor Shelton has not created a comprehensive drainage plan and has not budgeted to spend any of the $4.7 million in available funds.
    Fees charged to Central citizens by utility companies are paid by those companies to the City of Central as franchise fees, and 35% of that revenue is set aside and can only be spent for drainage improvements. The balance in that fund has grown from $2.7 million in 2014 to a projected $4.7 million in 2017. While the city’s maintenance contractor does clean ditches when problems are reported, no dedicated drainage improvement funds have made it into Mayor Shelton’s budgets.
    The Mayor of Central is required by law to formulate a budget each June for approval by the City Council.  Each of Mayor Shelton’s last two annual budgets contained no plan for using the millions of dollars of dedicated drainage improvement monies, either for actual improvements or for a comprehensive drainage improvement plan. In addition, the Mayor can request funding for drainage improvements at any time during the year. There has been no funding requested for improvements or for a plan, even in the seven months since Central’s historic flood of 2016.


1 Comment