The Daily Review/Bill Decker
The Teche Project's David Dahlquist speaks Tuesday to the Berwick Town Council about a kiosk for the riverfront.
Berwick council hears about flooding, renews property taxes
BERWICK — The Town Council heard an after action report on the April 5 flooding Tuesday, and the mayor asked for help from Berwick residents in reducing street flooding.
If you’re setting up a donation bin, the Town Council wants you to keep it tidy and dry. And if you’re interested in donating toward a Teche Project kiosk for the Berwick waterfront, the nonprofit would like to hear from you.
Those were among the items that came up at the regular second-Tuesday council meeting. Members also renewed the town property tax rates and the annual drainage fee that property owners pay. The council heard from residents who would like a gravel portion of Sixth Street to be blacktopped.
After the flood
The monthly report on daily rainfall showed 5.6 inches of rain for April 5, when storms caused widespread street flooding across the region.
Public works crews have been busy cleaning out ditches, said Director Rafael Lopez. He mentioned drainage in the Renwick subdivision area, where officials received word of water coming into a home.
Mayor Duval Arthur asked residents to report drains and ditches clogged with debris so the town can be prepared for the next heavy rain.
Berwick, which usually gets about 60 inches of rain in a year, got 9.58 inches in April.
Three ordinances passed unanimously Tuesday, including new rules for proliferating donation bins that collect donated clothes and other items.
The ordinance bans donation bins unless the bin’s owner has an employee at the bin at least five days a week. Bins would have to be placed on improved property owned or leased by the owner of the bin. Electrical connections to bins are prohibited, and plans for bins and the wording of signs on bins must be approved by the town government.
After posting notice, the town will be able to take out-of-compliance bins and destroy them.
The council also renewed the drainage fee of $25 per acre and the property tax rates. The town has a 12.12 mill tax for the general fund and 6 mills for public works.
A mill is 1/10th-cent of tax applied to every dollar of assessed valuation. The assessed valuation of residential property is set by law at 10 percent of the property’s market value as determined by the parish assessor. Louisiana’s homestead exemption generally doesn’t apply to municipal property taxes.
David Dahlquist of the Teche Project made a pitch for donations toward a Teche Project kiosk for Berwick’s waterfront.
The kiosks are designed to mark key points on the Teche and Lower Atchafalaya along the 135 miles of waterway from Port Barre to Berwick.
One side of the kiosk would have information about the river system and a map showing the key points. The other side would tell the story of the town or city where the kiosk is placed.
“If we receive funding, we could proceed pretty quickly …,” Dahlquist said. “In our terms, fairly quickly is a few months.”
The kiosk would cost about $8,500, Dahlquist said, and the Teche Project would put up $1,000. Dahlquist didn’t appeal directly to the council for funds but said donations from public or private sources would be welcome.
Last month, Patterson unveiled a Teche Project kiosk, which was the first to be sponsored by a single family, the Sandra Marshall family.
Cherish and Ryan Vining would like the town government to blacktop a gravel portion of Sixth Street near where they’re building a home.
The trouble is that it isn’t clear whether the town owns the street or whether it meets the 50-foot right-of-way standard that would allow the town government to take it over. The town has placed gravel on the road in the past.
The town government is looking into the legal questions, and Arthur promised an answer at next month’s meeting.
Planning and Zoning Director Gary Beadle asked the council to look at mobile home rules around the town with an eye toward making it possible to put a mobile home in one area currently zoned B-2 for business.
The area is from Sixth Street down Utah and up to the Berwick Public Housing Authority, and from Canton down Sixth Street to the railroad tracks.
B-2 Highway Business District zoning prohibits mobile homes, but Beadle is asking the council to consider a conditional use exception for mobile homes in the zone, where business activity is now minimal.
—The council received a favorable audit report from accountant Gerald Thibodeaux. He said the town’s reserves are enough to run the town for nearly four months, more than the rule of thumb of one to two months.
—The council passed a resolution supporting Louisiana Economic Development’s Louisiana Development Ready Communities Plan and designating the Urban Land Institute study of development opportunities in Berwick and Morgan City as Berwick’s plan under the program.