VPCC discusses LGAP money to be used for blighted props.
The Ville Platte City Council met Monday to discuss applying for an LGAP (Louisiana Government Assistance Program) grant and how to use money to be received. Initially, Mayor Jennifer Vidrine suggested at a previous meeting using the money for cameras around the city, but changed her suggestion to use the money for cleaning up blighted and/or abandoned properties. The city has 22 blighted/abandoned properties which need to be cleaned up.
“This will be money well-spent because this will help us clean up the city,” said Vidrine. “We’ve been getting beaucoup complaints, and I think we need to do our due diligence and clean up the properties that belong to us, especially if we’re asking people to clean up their own.”
Councilman Bryant Riggs suggested using inmates to help clean up the city. He said they previously talked about getting equipment, such as weed eaters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, etc. for the inmates to use to clean up the city. “We have to utilize as much man power as we can around here,” said Riggs. “We have inmates who want to get out there and work.”
Vidrine responded, saying they are doing a budget review at the end of December where they will look at each department’s budget. The LGAP would not come in until the spring. She said it would be better to wait for the budget review in December to see if they can purchase the equipment with money from the budget instead of the LGAP grant.
Councilman Mike Perron asked how much it costs to tear down the houses. Vidrine said it depends on the condition of the house and could be from $5,000 - $6,000, and that includes clean up. Riggs said the grant money would not stretch too far in that case. Vidrine said it would be a start.
Councilwoman Faye Lemoine asked what is the plan for the properties after they are torn down and cleaned up. Vidrine said they are going to build single-family homes on some and pocket parks on others. For the homes, a developer would apply for tax credits through Louisiana Housing, and they would purchase the lots from the city and build the houses.
There was also discussion about using money from a recently-received worker’s comp dividend check. Originally, the mayor suggested purchasing a backhoe, but upon further research, she suggested putting the money in a reserve, and start looking in the departmental accounts for money for a backhoe. She also said they can use a reverse auction, in which the city gets the best price from all of the dealers on state contract. “We can do the lease purchase with the state contract for a backhoe and pay the notes from all of the departments. And we can keep the workman’s comp check in a reserve to let it get some interest and don’t spend it at all,” said Vidrine.
Vidrine said the council got off track with the discussion about the dividend check and the backhoe. She said they would have to move the discussion of the dividend check to the current meeting or move it to the December meeting. The council agreed to move the dividend discussion to the December meeting.
As for the LGAP application, Riggs argued to use the money to buy equipment to help clean the city. Lemoine asked if they could use the money to tear down the properties and buy equipment to clean up. Riggs said they do not know what the budget will look like and if it will be enough to buy equipment.
After considerable back-and-forth discussion, with members talking over one another, the council unanimously agreed to use the LGAP to tear down blighted/abandoned properties. They applied for the maximum amount of $50,000. City Engineer Ronnie Landreneau said they might only receive around $25,000 or less, based on past experiences with LGAP.