Pointe Coupee Parish may have a better handle on operations a year after the move to Home Rule Charter, but other challenges loom in 2020.

The parish must continue its efforts to improve public works and infrastructure at the same time officials maintain fiscal responsibility, Parish President Major Thibaut said Tuesday.

“I think we had a really good first year, much smoother than I anticipated, but now that we have a year behind us, we realize some of the areas we need to work on and improve efficiency,” he said.

“We’ll be focusing on that, as well as where we can improve.”

The infrastructure improvements – made possible by state capital outlay funds and a $2.5 million bond – will move into gear by spring.

The parish will focus on ways to ensure the projects run efficiently in terms of the time frame and the costs.

“We’ve got a lot of projects upcoming, and we need to stay on top, make sure they go smoothly and that they’re done right,” Thibaut said.

“We’re going to be dealing with a lot of contractors and a lot of construction and overseeing that we get the most bang for our buck.”

The challenge will not only hinge upon the actual construction.

The parish must decide how and where it will accommodate offices in the various facilities during the construction process this year.

“The parish has the mandate to house all these government officials, whether it’s the clerk of court, the assessor, judges, Sheriff’s Office and so forth, as well as the inmates in the jail,” Thibaut said.

“We have to figure how to get the construction done while enabling them to continue their day to day business.

“It’s going to be a challenge and we’re going to have to coordinate it as best as possible,” he said.

“We have to make sure the business of the parish doesn’t stop while the construction is taking place.”

The parish also wants to seek ways to improve and expand drainage capabilities.

The Pointe Coupee Parish Public Works Department focused on larger canals and watershed ditches across the parish last year, and Thibaut said he hopes to hire one or two more operators to help speed up the projects in 2020.

The parish also will work to remain financially prudent in 2020. The first year for Home Rule marked a significant turn in that direction, Thibaut said.

“We were able to realize a lot of different savings in our contracts and our efficiency over the last years and we look to continue it,” he said.

“We have a lot more contracts coming up and we hope to realize that savings and put that money into programs and functions in the parish that need extra help, whether it be roadwork or ditches and drainage.

“We’re not a very rich parish when it comes to the money the government has to operate, so we have to make the most of what we have and be as efficient as we can,” Thibaut said.

“Turning around some of those savings to places we need to catch up on will be the key, whether it’s building infrastructure or drainage infrastructure or drainage infrastructure.”

Thibaut said he hopes the parish can land extra revenue from industrial development, which could become a reality if officials can draw new business to the area through the annexation of the Port of Pointe Coupee Parish by the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, the eighth largest port in the nation.

He intends to work with the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Economic Development and area business leaders to attract companies to either relocate or expand in Pointe Coupee Parish.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire, and now with a year under our belts, perhaps it can free up a little time for me from the day-to-day operations in here to continue to work on bringing some new business to the parish,” Thibaut said.

“We have a chance to make 2020 a great year.”