At a special meeting of the Sulphur City Council Monday morning, an ordinance was passed declaring a public emergency.
The ordinance will allow the administration to access federal funding in the event of a local outbreak of COVID-19. There are no reported cases of the virus in Sulphur at this time. Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay said this is a proactive measure.
When the federal government issued a National Emergency, they also passed a funding package to assist local and state agencies with expenses incurred in the event of an outbreak.
“If it comes time to ask for reimbursement, we'll be entitled to those funds,” Danahay said. “The expenditures must be related to the virus and must be well-documented.”
Sulphur residents Donnie Fuselier and Craig Ellender spoke in opposition to the declaration. Fuselier said the virus-related closures had turned the city on its head and he complained about the empty store shelves and fights over scant supplies.
Danahay responded that these were some of the issues that may lead to extra law enforcement security details — incurring overtime costs — which would be the type of expenditure that would require federal reimbursement.
Fuselier said he found the declaration “premature” to which Danahay responded that while no virus-related expenses haven been incurred, yet, if an emergency is not declared, the city could be “cut out of any funding available.”
Ellender suggested this declaration was “nothing more than a ploy for y'all to cushion your pockets in special ways” with federal money, obviously disregarding the stipulations Danahay said applied to the funding. Danahay repeated that the city would only be reimbursed for expenses incurred in addressing COVID-19.
As of this writing there are 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisiana, primarily in the southeast corner of the state, with a few in the northwest corner. As of 8 a.m. Monday, two Louisiana residents have died from the coronavirus — both men in their 50s who resided in Orleans Parish.