The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission from John McAlpin. The views and opinions expressed are those of Mr. McAlpin and not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.
Trust: The definition of the word is firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. It is also something that is not usually easy to obtain, and if it is lost, can be very hard, if not impossible to obtain again.
This is the problem facing the leaders of Natchitoches parish. I know I am not alone in my thinking, In fact I have heard from several people who share the same ideas that I am about to present to you. I can not speak for every citizen in Natchitoches Parish, nor would I ever attempt to do so, but I know these feelings are there among several citizens.
Different people have different opinions of when the problems started. Some like to point out the problems that the police jury was having. In fact there seemed to be so much of a problem that the steps were taken to change the form of government in this parish. When it was brought before the voters of this parish, 57.58% of those who voted, chose to change the form of government. Just a little more than half. (Source: http://staticresults.sos.la.gov/10222011/10222011_35.html)
There are also citizens that thought things were going smoothly and did not think that a change was needed. They point out that things have gone downhill since the new government took over. Some have even stated how they would like to go back to the police jury form of government. Either way you look at it, you will find that there is a problem with trust of how the government is being run in this Parish. The problems did not happen overnight and it will not be fixed overnight.
I, among others on the Facebook page dedicated to the roads that I moderate, would like to see this system work. Personally, I think if we change the focus to changing the form of government, we will never see any improvement in the roads!! The problems have been going on for years and that covers both forms of government.
I will give the parish credit; they are at least attempting to look into the problem. However, since it has taken so long to even start that process, our roads have crumbled to the point simple repairs are not possible. There is no denying that the parish is broke and does not have the funds to maintain them, as they should be. The ad-valorem tax (Road District 40) has been the same since the late 80s. Several times, it was brought before the voters to attempt to raise it but each time it was voted down.
People in this parish pay a lot of taxes, as the economy has yet to pick up there is less money to go around. There is what on paper seems to be a simple answer to fix the roads of Natchitoches Parish, Raise the ad-valorem tax! However, that is not as simple as it seems. To get the money required, it would involve raising the tax from the current 4.87 mills to 15 mills. That means you would be paying three times as much. There is talk about a cap of $36 for Parish residents that I have not been able to clarify as of now; I do plan to try to find out more about it. I have spoken to several parish residents and it would not matter if they only wanted to raise it one mill, they are not in favor of it, reason being, TRUST. They do not trust the government in Natchitoches to spend it wisely. And I can say I understand
As I moderate the Facebook page, I see a lot of pictures being posted, pictures of “repairs” that the parish does that makes everyone scratch their heads. Potholes that are full of water being filled with the mix they use, and the hole is only halfway filled. One load of rock being dumped in a place that needs three. We understand that the parish has limited resources, but the quality of the work we are receiving for what we do pay in seems to be lacking just a bit. There are also reports of graders just driving by homes and not even attempting to work the road. In addition, I also see reports of roads that have been graded and it was worse than it was before, to the point where citizens are questioning the ability of the operator to do the work. We all saw how the picture taken of the grader man taking a “nap” spread like wildfire on social media. Granted that instance is now a dead subject, but things of that nature are the reason the citizens of this parish question the ability of the public works department to maintain the roads. Most residents feel the parish asking them to pay more in taxes is a slap in the face to them. They simply do not feel that the money would be used wisely. It is not the fact that it is needed; it is a trust issue that they will put the money to good use.
I personally have not seen enough information myself to endorse a tax, Is it needed? Yes, But I have been burnt enough times in my life by someone telling me they are going to do something and then they do the opposite. I would like to see the parish come up with a plan of attack on the road issue, something like a master plan, once I see how they plan to address the issue, as in prioritizing roads, drainage improvement plans, etc… and I see exactly what it is going to cost me, then I will determine how I wish to vote on such a proposed tax. There is not enough information for me to decide yet. I, among others, know it is needed, but simply do not trust the parish to spend it wisely. It’s not that we do not want the roads fixed; it is simply a matter of trust.
If the Trust issue is not addressed to the voter’s satisfaction, then any tax presented to the voters will fail. It is past time to put away our differences of the past and work together for a solution. Only if we do that, will we find a way to figure out the problem we are ALL facing!!. This should not be about how things got this way; it should be about finding a solution to the problem!
I for one, hope that the trust issue will be addressed for the betterment of all the citizens of Natchitoches Parish.
“FIX THE ROADS IN NATCHITOCHES PARISH” – facebook page