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Old 05-23-2009, 06:35 PM
riccky riccky is offline
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Default Caddo may hire stimulus experts, lease more property for drilling

The Caddo Commission is considering hiring outside consultants to help manage the parish's efforts at reeling in federal economic stimulus money. The panel also may lease about 500 more acres of public property for oil and gas drilling.
Commissioners on Monday allowed both items to move onto their agenda. The measures likely won't be put to an up-or-down vote until early June.
The board questioned the parish administration earlier this month on its action to snag more of President Obama's $787 billion package. So far, Caddo has announced it should receive $700,000 for transportation projects. That money will filter from the state, through the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments to Caddo.
On May 4, President Stephanie Lynch set up a stimulus committee made up of commissioners because parish employees had been handling those efforts will little oversight from elected officials. Parish administrator Woody Wilson said Caddo may not be able to apply for some grants or loans because it is in good financial shape and because its population base only about 50,000 residents excluding Shreveport's 200,000 is too small.
"We don't have the staff to devote to it and to make sure we meet the federal regulations," Lynch said Monday. Besides stacks of pages to read through before application, local governments that get stimulus money must also extensively report spending.
Caddo already employs federal lobbyist Susie Morgan, of law firm Phelps Dunbar, who attended Monday's work session. During a short presentation to the commission, she said the board's trip to Washington Mardi Gras was "very successful."
"We have certainly gained credibility and visibility with our delegation," said Morgan, who added she recently met with the Washington staffs of Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter and Congressman John Fleming.
Much of Morgan's focus since the parish hired her in 2004 has been working to get money for a parishwide water district in conjunction with Bossier Parish, extension of the Southern Loop and a Blanchard Road underpass, She said she has not been instructed to work specifically on seeking stimulus funds.
Another source of income for the parish could be leasing more acreage for drilling.
If the commission gives the go ahead, the parish will allow the state Mineral Board to lease about 539 acres at the request of Classic Petroleum Inc.
Commissioners, who are mulling proposed parish and state drilling regulations in response to harvesting the Haynesville Shale's resources, moved the lease item onto the voting agenda with no discussion.
Most of the land is roads and rights of way in southwest Caddo, parish Public Works Director Robert Glass said.
In July, Caddo leased 585 acres and raked in $17.6 million in up-front bonuses. It eventually should be paid 30 percent royalties on extracted gas from locations such as Eddie D. Jones Park, south of Keithville. Chesapeake Energy Corp. has built a road through the park to access planned wells and to divert traffic from nearby Spring Ridge Estates.
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