The ad-hoc committee that was appointed by parish President Rick Nowlin met this evening at 5:00 in the Court House in Natchitoches at their last scheduled meeting to present their findings on how to improve the parish roads and the means with which to implement those changes.
The meeting was called to order by committee Chairman Mr. Roger Williams who then asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting. Motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes.
Then Mr. Williams called for old business and asked Ms. Donna Isaacs to give a brief summary of the final report which is attached to this synopsis. Ms. Isaacs explained that there were a couple of things that had changed since the last meeting and that they were the deletion of two methods of raising revenue from the proposal which were the fuel tax suggestion and the wheel tax suggestion. The reasons given were that the fuel tax is administered solely by the state and that the wheel tax is not utilized in the state of Louisiana. That leaves the parish residents with two options for raising revenue which are a sales tax and an ad valorem tax. It is estimated that a 1/2 % sales tax would generate approximately 3.1 million dollars annually. The biggest advantage is that revenue generated by this option would begin coming into the road/bridge budget within 90-120 days. In regards to the ad valorem (property) tax issue Ms. Isaacs said that an in depth study of adjoining parishes showed that on average those parishes collected 15-20 mills whereas Natchitoches was around 4.7 mills. The report says that if we raise the millage to 15 in Natchitoches parish that it would generate approximately 3.2 million dollars from the parish and approximately 1.2 million dollars from the city. The added benefit is that as property values rise so would the amount generated from the tax. The disadvantage is that this option will not even begin to generate revenue for one to two years into the future whereas the roads need attention now.
There was an added proposal which would solve both of these disadvantages is the generation of a hybrid tax. This would be a combination of the 1/2 % sales tax and an ad valorem tax. The 1/2 % sales tax would be voted in with a “sunset” provision which would phase it out after five years during which time the ad valorem taxes would have been implemented and money would be coming into the road fund from it. This is the proposal which the committee will be presenting to the parish President and from him to the parish Council to present to the voters hopefully to be put on the October ballot.
Then the committee Chairman called for public comments and there were two. Mr. Russell Rachal who is running for district five Councilman commended the committee for putting together such a comprehensive package. Then I stood and basically seconded Mr. Rachals points and thanked the committee for all their hard work and dedication to this project.
The final report is attached.
As a final word I would ask that ALL parish residents please read the attached report. I believe it to be a very good approach to the problems of the parish roads and a very real approach to helping bring new business and residents into the Natchitoches area.
Thanks for listening,