Supervisors still have questions on levee

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 18, 2001

[05/18/01] Supervisors say there are still legal issues to be clarified on the question of Warren County building a levee to provide year-around access to Kings Point.

District 1 Supervisor David McDonald said Thursday that the attorney for the Warren County Board of Supervisors has submitted a second request for an opinion from the Attorney General. Supervisors received one response last week, but McDonald said the board needed more clarification.

Supervisors had asked whether the county can build a levee without creating a levee district that would tax landowners to fund upkeep.

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In a response, the Attorney General’s Office stated that the county could spend the $200,000 allocated by the state for a feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The county’s share of the study will be $325,000, leaving supervisors unsure if the county can spend the remaining $125,000 for the study.

The Legislature passed a bond issue in March that would provide $200,000 toward the county’s share. McDonald said the county is seeking a second opinion asking if funds can be spent on the project beyond the money allocated by the state.

The Corps has been working with Warren County since 1999 on studies of a levee along the Mississippi River side of Kings Point to provide access and perhaps reduce flooding in the lower Mississippi Delta under some conditions.

Construction of the levee is estimated to cost $5.2 million to $8 million. Warren County’s share of that cost would be 35 percent with the rest coming from federal sources. Part of the 35 percent could come from state sources, adjacent counties or existing levee boards.

Without a levee or a bridge, the only access to Kings Point when the river rises above 18 feet is a ferry that costs county taxpayers about $250,000 annually to operate.

Competing with the levee idea is building a bridge. The cost of a bridge and roadway is now estimated to be $3 million to $4 million.

Supervisors have said they want to address the problem, but want to keep their options open.