Jefferson County workers were caught by the Beaumont Enterprise doing work at the home of a supervisor near Fannett on Tuesday.
Six employees labored outside the house owned by Jefferson County Drainage District 6 operations manager Stephen LeBlanc on Tuesday. A reporter from the newspaper witnessed them working on the barn, which was flooded during Tropical Depression Imelda.
LeBlanc told the reporter he wasn’t sure who sent the workers to his home, noting they had also been there on Monday.
Richard LeBlanc Jr., general manager for the district and Stephen LeBlanc’s father, told the Enterprise he was paying the workers himself to help employees whose property suffered storm damage.
“We had a number of employees that flooded and I thought that was the humane thing to do,” he said.
The newspaper noted the employees were in a county truck. Richard LeBlanc Jr. said his department can’t do its normal work right now due to flooding.
“What we do is dig and we can’t dig right now,” he told the Enterprise.
County Judge Jeff Branick told the newspaper he hadn’t heard of similar work being performed by such crews in the past.
“The general rule is that public funds can’t be used for private purposes,” Branick said. “However, if it serves a public purpose to get workers back to work more quickly, it’s probably something the attorney general would say is OK.”
The Enterprise discovered two district vehicles and two county workers at the home of district employee Joey Rosetta on Tuesday. Rosetta told a reporter the two were not on the clock.
When the newspaper asked Richard LeBlanc Jr. if other district taxpayers who suffered flooding could receive the same aid, he said the district considered it but hadn’t made a decision yet.