Laura aftermath

Zoning ordinances addressing travel trailers, mobile homes and portable storage containers were temporarily suspended at the Tuesday meeting of the Sulphur City Council.

In light of the widespread need for housing as the result of damage from Hurricane Laura, residents may now apply for a permit — with waived fees — to allow for the temporary placement of travel trailers, motor homes, and mobile homes on residential property and in mobile home parks.

The permits are good for six months and residents may reapply when they expire. If an extension is needed after a full year, a resident will need to appear before the council to make the request. The permits place a limit of one of these temporary homes per land parcel.

A similar suspension was made of the ordinance pertaining to portable storage pods or containers in residential areas. Permits will be granted for two six-month periods and after that, residents will need to seek council approval.

Attorney Cade Cole acknowledged that the severity of the damage caused by the storm may require future extensions or changes to the temporary suspensions.

The council also approved an adjusted millage rate that, pre-storm, would have brought in about the same property tax revenue as last year. A rate of 16.45 mils was approved. Cole noted this will bring in reduced revenue given plummeting property values, but there won’t be any further adjustment this year.

The council also amended an emergency declaration ordinance to raise the cap on the amount of funds that can be used in the restoration of police and fire protection, water quality and wastewater collection and treatment, among other services. Cole reported to the council that the current cap on the funds has already been “far exceeded.”

The council approved a request for proposals for a contractor to handle FEMA program management, project development and grant administration, to navigate the city through grant process, handle all the associated paperwork and maximize the amount of money the city can receive from FEMA. Cole advised the council that the costs to the city associated with recovery will be “immense, well into the eight figures.”

The council also:

• Authorized a contract with Meyer and Associates, working alongside an outside consultant, to begin a FEMA damage inventory of city facilities and properties.

• Authorized a request for proposals for a public adjuster to represent the city in insurance matters.

• Reappointed Tommy Little to the Sulphur Housing Authority Board of Directors.