BATON ROUGE — More than a week after city officials claimed federal regulators asked East Baton Rouge leaders to sign a nondisclosure agreement regarding the parish’s new stormwater proposal, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome admits no such deal ever existed.
The admission came on Tuesday after Congressman Garret Graves said members of the US Environmental Protection Agency had refuted claims the agency had asked city and parish leaders to sign an NDA.
EPA: “No deadline in place required by EPA that would require new tax to be imposed by the parish by the end of the month” (2/2)
— Rep Garret Graves (@RepGarretGraves) October 18, 2022
Some subway board members also reported last week that they had been asked to sign an NDA but refused.
The mayor’s office released the following statement on Tuesday clarifying that there was no federal NDA, adding that there was only a parish-town drafted agreement.
“The Parish City strives to remain in compliance with our Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (LPDES) permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). This effort includes l Establishing a robust stormwater improvement plan, Our current deadline for providing a compliance plan with our permit and responding to the findings of the MS4 audit is the first quarter of 2023.
The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is an agreement drafted by the city and the parish. The NDA is signed by Parish-Town staff and Parish-Town consultants to protect discussions regarding our stormwater permit and the Parish-Town’s historical deficiencies in stormwater compliance. No state or federal government agency has required the parish town to sign a nondisclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement with respect to stormwater compliance.
However, as is common practice, settlement discussions that may lead to legal action should be kept confidential for the benefit of all parties.
There is no NDA for the stormwater proposal. There is an NDA with the parish attorney regarding our conversations with the Department of Justice regarding our MS4 audit. Additionally, while there is no deadline for our stormwater proposal, there is a deadline from the Department of Justice to submit our compliance plan for the MS4 permit.”
On Tuesday afternoon, two of EBR’s 12 board members, Dwight Hudson and Jen Racca, said they would oppose the plan when it comes to a vote at the Metro Council meeting on Oct. 26. Aaron Moak also told WBRZ on Monday that, as things stand, he doesn’t plan to vote for the plan.
“Right now, I just can’t pass this. I can’t vote for this right now. I want to hear from the public. I want to hear from everyone,” Moak said.
The mayor introduced the proposal earlier this month, saying the plan was needed to strengthen city drainage and avoid federal interference. Before the plan goes to council for a vote next week, members of the Metro board are holding a series of public meetings where residents can voice their opinions.