The failed road system in Natchitoches Parish is brought up at every Parish Council meeting, as residents continue to remind the Council of the conditions they must drive through everyday to reach their homes. Several residents spoke at the meeting Monday night, Sept. 19.
The bottom line problem, according to Nick Verret, is that no investment has been made over the past 40 years into the road system. While the residents are questioning when work will be done on their roads, Verret said there’s so much to be done with the Highway Department’s limited man power and equipment.
“It’s gonna take a long time to do it,” he said.
It doesn’t help that 150 roads were damaged by the storm event in March, which caused the Parish to spend over $300,000 that wasn’t budgeted.
“We have to respond to situations and circumstances as they arise,” said Verret.
When addressing another resident’s concerns, Council member Patsy Ward Hoover said, “You’re on the list like everyone else.”
Verrret said with the amount of roads that are considered “failed,” scarifying the worst roads they’ll be easier to maintain.
However, Hoover said it sounded like this would be going backwards to gravel roads.
In the end, it costs around $270,000 per mile to overlay a road. Debbie Miley said the Parish budget is $3 million. If one road (2.1 miles) costs $500,000, where is the money going to come from to overlay all the roads that need it.
“[Nick] isn’t telling you anything that’s not true,” she said. “[The money’s] just not there.”
In other business, Tax Assessor Dollie Mahoney discussed three protests on values of property for assessment purposes. Prog Leasing is protesting the assessment of $1,200, saying they feel they should pay nothing. Aaron Inc. is protesting the assessment of $92,730, saying the amount should be $4,903. The Council accepted her recommendation that the Council accept her assessments.
The Council approved the request of a Legislative Audit/Investigation for the Parish. Hoover said the reason she made the request is because of the local audit’s findings dealing with misappropriated funds. She said there is need for transparency because there are a number of things the Parish isn’t putting out to the public.
Council member Doug de Graffenried said he voted in favor of the legislative audit because the dates listed go back to 2008, which goes back to the time of the Police Jury form of government, which is worth having them look into it.
The Council went into an executive session to hear a report from the Parish Attorney Kip Fair regarding pending litigation and a report of Performance Evaluation (Personnel Matter). No action was taken.
Other agenda items included:
•Council to approve introduction of Ordinance #7-2016 a budget for the 2017 final year, making appropriations for each department, project and account.
•Reappoint Jamie Flanagan to the Parish Children and Youth Planning Board
•Appoint LaQuinta Collins to the Parish Housing Authority Board
•Appoint Tracy Brown to the Parish Library Board
•Appoint Tony Brian Swords to the Saline Lake Commission
•Approve keeping the same agents to seek insurance rates for the Parish for 2017: Risk Management of LA (Cunningham Agency), Terry Downs and Jim Sandifer
•Authorize Parish President Rick Nowlin to execute a right-of-way and easement to Southwestern Electric Company
•Consider a project for selection for the 2017-2018 LGAP Program
•Consider authorizing Parish President to submit an application for funding under the Federal Lands Access Program
•Change speed limit to a portion of Eight Mile Loop from 35 MPH to 25 MPH
Agenda Item Amendments
•Take action to adopt a resolution ordering and calling a special election in the Parish to authorize the levy of special taxes therein; making application to the State Bond Commission. This includes the Health Department, Library, Road District 40 and General Alimony.
•Tabled the renewal of the lease agreement with Ernest Self for the Creston Polling Place for $1,000 annually.
•Authorize the Parish President to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with New Cedron Baptist Church to tie into their water system for the Vowells Mill polling place.