Covering Louisiana

Sep 26, 2013 2:04 PM by AP

Budget plan cuts Terrebonne agency

HOUMA, La. (AP) - The Terrebonne Parish Council will consider effectively dissolving the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority and move economic development efforts under the parish government's control.

The Courier reports the change was reflected in Parish President Michel Claudet's proposed budget for the coming year, which was released at Wednesday night's Parish Council meeting. The budget removes nearly $600,000 the parish allocates to the agency and re-establishes that money within parish government.

"It is my belief that the continued funding of the TEDA organization in its present form is not in the best interest of the parish and that the function of economic development would be better served by having this function within parish government," Claudet said in a prepared statement Wednesday.

Terrebonne Economic Development Authority CEO Steve Vassallo, who had heard of Claudet's proposal, resigned after giving his semi-annual report Monday to the Parish Council.

Vassallo submitted his letter of resignation to Terrebonne Economic Development Authority board Chairman Clarence Williams before making his announcement to the council and said he expects Williams to call a meeting this week to discuss the letter.

"Last Monday, when Clarence told me about the call from the parish president, it was quite a shock wave. To reiterate, what I would think as a common courtesy: He would at least alert our executive committee before considering a recommendation," Vassallo said Monday.

Vassallo claims Claudet has a personal vendetta against him but did not provide specifics.

"I've been here 25 months. He has never invited me to his office or come to TEDA to talk philosophy," Vassallo said. "He has never given me the common courtesy to invite me for a conversation about what we should be doing."

Claudet has remained silent regarding Vassallo's comments to the council.

A public hearing will take place on the proposed budget Oct. 19.

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