The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this submission. The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com.
The quality of life experienced by the people of a parish is directly related to the type of public infrastructure in the parish, and the condition of its roads is a major part of that infrastructure. Road conditions impact public safety, economic development (jobs) and many other facets of public life. Here, in Natchitoches Parish, our roads are suffering from decades of inadequate maintenance and improvement. The primary reason for the lack of road improvements has been the lack of funds to conduct a proper road program.
On November 8, 2016, the people of Natchitoches Parish will have the opportunity to choose between two different futures for the Parish. The Parish Council has decided to allow the people to vote on whether they support better roads by providing more revenue to the road department. It was a difficult decision for the Parish Council to approve putting the tax propositions on the ballot, and they are to be commended for giving the people the right to decide the question.
There will be 2 sales tax propositions on the ballot. One is a ½ cent sales tax in the parish, including the City of Natchitoches (except for Campti which is already at the maximum tax rate). The other is a ¾ cent sales tax in the area of the parish outside of the City of Natchitoches and Campti. The revenues from both taxes are dedicated strictly to the maintenance and improvement of parish roads and bridges. By law, the funds cannot be used for any other purpose.
The folks that support passage of the taxes understand that we must improve our roads to improve the quality of life of our people, ensuring safe travel, delivery of mail, bus transportation for our school children, emergency medical services and everyday travel to work.
Those in opposition may question the need for more funds, but, to anyone who has examined the facts, the need is clear. Some in this group simply do not want another tax to pay. What the “no more tax” folks do not appear to understand is that they are already paying a heavy road tax. When they pay for front-end alignments, new tires, struts, or other vehicle damages, they are paying a hidden road tax. This cost can run into hundreds of dollars a year.
If both taxes were to be approved by the voters, the cost for many of our families would be about $2.00 per week, or about $100.00 per year. That is much less than the “hidden road tax” many are paying for having poor roads, not to mention the discomfort from driving on bumping roads or roads that are impassable due to the mud and ruts.
The question is, which road to the future will the people choose. Will they support the taxes dedicated to road improvements, or will they choose to keep things as they are, with continuing decline in road conditions and the associated decline in the quality of life? One thing is sure, the federal government is experiencing its own financial problems and we cannot count on it to solve our road problems. Also, the State of Louisiana has its own money problems, even though our senators and representatives have worked hard to assist us. The bottom line is, it is up to us. Which road will we choose?