Police Jury President Dane Hebert, Administrator Keith Roy speak to members
To sum up all that the Vermilion Parish Police Jury does, day in and day out, would take well more than an hour.
Police Jury President Dane Hebert and Parish Administrator Keith Roy gave a condensed version their best shot, when the two provided a “State of the Parish” last week to members of the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce. The event took place on Thursday morning at Southern Oaks Country Club.
“The things the governing body of Vermilion Parish does on a daily basis is endless,” Hebert said.
Where things begin is doing what is best for Vermilion Parish, including helping it advance and grow. Hebert worked on that last week, meeting with members of the Acadiana Planning Commission (APC).
“We met with them on the issue of getting fiber optics provided to the parish,” Hebert said.
That came after Hebert attended a meeting last month, where he heard about the expansion of fiber from the Lafayette area to Iberia Parish.
“I went to an APC meeting last month,” Hebert said. “They were in the process of extending fiber optics from Lafayette, 45 miles south into Iberia Parish. I asked them a question. What happened to Vermilion?
“Why can’t Vermilion be part of that extension?”
Hebert said Monique Boulet, CEO of the APC, took steps to try to find an answer to that question.
“She sent her delegation to Abbeville,” Hebert said. “We talked about that issue, providing fiber optics to Vermilion Parish. The request was to bring fiber into Vermilion Parish, down (U.S.) Hwy. 167. I said it needs to go all the way to Intracoastal (City). The line would be there for businesses who want to tap into it. It could take a few years, but I think if we build it, they will come. That can spark some economic development in the parish.
“That is one of the big things we are working on.”
Police Jury officials spent plenty of time working on debris removal in response to two storms that impacted the parish last fall. In all, Hebert said that the price tag of the debris removal was $6.5 million.
“Ninety percent of that bill is covered by the federal government,” Hebert said. “We are only going to be responsible for 10%.”
For a period of 30 days, the federal government paid 100%.
“We had to lobby for when those 30 days would be,” Hebert said. “We were the only parish that submitted a plan for which days. They took our plan.
“We are doing everything we can to save you money.”
That is as important as ever.
“I have been on the Jury for 13 years,” Hebert said. “We have always prided ourselves on doing a balanced budget. We always had enough money from taxes and (oil) royalty revenue. For the past few years, we’ve had to dip into our reserves. We have a significant amount of reserves, so we are in good shape.”
Hebert said the drop in oil revenues has been significant.
“We used to have over $1 million in royalty revenues from offshore drilling,” Hebert said. “That has gone to almost zero.
“We have to find a way to manage our budget without those revenues.”
While doing that, the Police Jury continues to make improvements, including in an area that is among its most important, roads.
“We are in the process of doing a $2.4 million capital outlay program with roads in the parish,” Hebert said. “The state contributed $1 million, with the parish contributing the other $1.4 million. That sounds like a lot of money, but the parish has a lot of road miles. It takes over $100,000 to do one mile, if you just resurface it. If you redo the road, it could go over $200,000 per mile.
“One million doesn’t go that far, but we’re doing the best we can with those funds.”
Coastal projects, animal control, bridges, trash pickup and preserving the life of the land fill are among numerous other focuses for the Police Jury.
“The Police Jury has a lot of responsibilities,” Roy said. “When I joined, I didn’t really know all that they do.
“They have a lot of responsibilities.”
Hebert said it takes fiscal responsibility to make it all work.
“We have a $24 million budget,” Hebert said, “and we spend it as wisely as we can. It’s challenging, but everyone in this room has challenges with their businesses. I like a good challenge sometimes.
“It’s our job to spend that money as wisely as we can, and get the most bang for the buck.”
Published on www.vermiliontoday.com website, 4/1/21