Why Natchitoches Parish needs a Consolidated Government.

By Nicholas Wright/Opinion


Government is the problem. The words of the late Ronald Reagan should resound loudly with Natchitoches Parish Government. It is in political science and not administration that this argument resides. A better form of home rule charter should exist for Natchitoches Parish. The parish, a tourist hotspot,should not have a deteriorating transportation infrastructure that affects revenue projections. Several reasons exist that support a parish-city consolidation:

The National League of Cities lists several of them. Consolidations produce cost savings (in the long-term), increase efficiency (overlapping or duplicated city and county services can be eliminated), improve resource base (increased legal powers, revenue sources, and jurisdiction), and enhance planning capacity (greater cooperation with the private sector may be fostered).

One can think of it as a President Trump solution.

Most importantly the National League of Cities says consolidations improve accountability. They say a consolidated entities responsibility for services can no longer be in dispute as it may have been between separate governments. This can be expanded on the political science track. A consolidated entity eliminates bureaucratic politicians. No longer will city districts dictate for parish decisions and vice versa. Therefore, a significant improvement is that the composition of taxes is evolving in the right direction.

Over the years, the argument for consolidation has shifted from one based on public administration (that is, seeking efficiency and effectiveness, productivity) to one based on political science (that is, seeking accountability). Consolidated metropolitan servicesare more accountable than fragmented services. Citizens can access consolidated services without trying to figure out whether X is a county service or a city service. The largest effects would most likely be seen in economic development, planning, and fire protection; three areas that the parish and city are mutual. In fact, the first consolidated government in America was New Orleans and Orleans Parish in 1805.

It should be noted that a consolidated government does not have to eliminate executive leadership for the parish. Two distinct service districts may also be created, with one to provide services for the urban population and another for the rural population. The current council-president model allows legislative participation, which has its political underpinnings. A consolidated parish-city will act like a council-manager model. It is not necessary for government to be synonymous with gridlock.

Generally, a consolidated parish-city government willsave a total of $30,000 to $110,000 that would otherwise pay for politician’s salaries. That is enough money to pave a two-lane road a mile. A mile of pavement is certainly enough to eliminate the pothole problem. This is a plan for Rural Access.

The $80,000 Parish President salary is exactly for the purpose of bringing in such a talented individual (as is the $6,000 per district council member). In fact, an early version of the HRCrequired for the Parish President to be “a graduate of an accredited university with a four year degree”.This is not unusual but for the lack of talent that the politicians are being paid for.That is because the current Parish President is an engineer, not a professional administrator. The disposition is known as Putt’s Law. It states that technocracy is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand. Therefore, every technocratic hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion.

Sundry may think that Natchitoches Parish is too small for a parish-city consolidation. However, there are many small consolidations, specifically the capitals of Nevada and Alaska. Being Louisiana’s oldest city, Natchitoches is very applicable to these scenarios. A consolidation would create greater citizen buy-in of public programs, saving fire districts and insurance. A consolidation would make programs more efficiently administered to make the tax dollar go further, saving Robeline-Marthaville a water system.

It is unusual that Natchitoches’s public officials are paid so much for such little talent. Two dollars from every resident to the Parish President. Compare this to the POTUS salary of $400,000 for a population over 300 million. New Mexican legislatures receive no salary. On balance, many of these positions are unnecessary and duplicative of other jurisdictions.

Finally, there is a unique form of government used in the State of Georgia. It is known as a sole commissioner model.This model eliminates the politics of a legislative council. The Parish President would then be the executive and legislature in governance. In theory, this model could be enacted with a two council member vote to amend the home rule charter. The Parish Council could ask to eliminate the Parish Council itself.

Otherwise, there is no Vox Populi and no one benefits.

Nicholas Wright holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and is currently attending graduate school for Public Administration.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal received this letter. 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.

11 thoughts on “Why Natchitoches Parish needs a Consolidated Government.

  1. Well, first of all Mr. Wright, suggesting a “President Trump solution” is a turn off and has no relevancy as to how to govern in Natchitoches. While Mr. Trump might be a great business manager, he has not one bit of a clue how to govern.

    It appears that you are not aware that the home rule form of government for Natchitoches Parish is fairly new and citizens in this area are still way behind the learning curve as to how this form of governing should work. We still have a mind set with a few members of the Parish Council who wish to see a return to the antiquated and inefficient police jury form of government. Until the constant bickering among council members and conflict with the Parish President ends and goes away, home rule or any other forms (as you suggest) of governing will not function effectively for Natchitoches Parish. Voting in home rule was a humongous effort and met with tremendous opposition mostly from the then sitting Police Jury members, some of who currently sit on the Parish Council; but citizens of Natchitoches as a whole saw the need for change and doing things differently with better organization and structure, and home rule won with an overwhelming majority vote. So from that stand point, it is way too early to talk about government consolidation and establishing another form of governing in Natchitoches Parish.

    Do not quite understand Mr. Hart’s comments, other than his disagreement sound more personal rather than a discussion of merit. But this demonstrates the mixed bag you get from folks in the Natchitoches area who have not taken the extra steps to learn about how home rule should work, and thus they do not get involved in governance of our community.

    Our parish school board is in horrible shape and needs stronger citizen involvement to push for change and doing a better job.

    • Mr. vbljr, your turn ons and offs are very irrelevant to me…and Natchitoches Parish. I am very aware of the newness of HRC, I am still in possession of a letter received from the Louisiana Inspector General (although dated from mid 2012) on his response to a concern I had with it. I also agree with HRC, it is the only right direction to step in. However, the next step is consolidation. The dichotomy of urban-rural residents informs the direction to me. Voter weariness is less important to me, than president worship (another academic buzzword).
      HRC was a humungous effort, and would be difficult to repeat. Believe me, I wouldn’t try it. However, when we are ready to go the extra mile it will be a good extra mile. I would much rather have no Indians and only the Chief, or no Indians and no Chief…just a manager. I am particularly worried about a city resident becoming the Parish President…but not dead to rights.
      As to Mr. Hart, he does not know you cannot eat your cake and have it at the same time (all nominative determinism intended).
      As to education, that is unfortunate. Education has spillover effects and externalities. Higher levels of education generally yield higher levels of income. Educated people tend to be more productive and increase the total wealth of the society. The long-run economic strategy is to invest in education to improve the productivity of labor. Given the mobility of the population, the benefits produced by one local education system may spread far beyond its geographic boundaries. No wants to hear (or say), “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

  2. Thank you Mr. Wright for your comments that I found interesting. Consolidated City-Parish governments seem to be working in East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Orleans, and Terrebonne Parishes. It is an idea that is certainly worth consideration for Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish. Such consolidation is not a new idea here. There are others that believe it would work for us.

  3. Well thought out, well written (even if Mr’ Hart couldn’t understand a word of it) More thought like this is needed in Natchitoches Parish and City.
    I wouldn’t discount Mr. Nolan as just an engineer, he’s a great admin. He, like the rest of us just find ourselves fighting an uphill battle. Especially when faced with the type of stagnation that Mr. Hart seems to relish, “not from Natchitoches” Indeed. Is it pride or just idiocy that makes you think that Only “old Money” knows whats best for this town. We need fresh ideas and fresh educated people to bring us ALL up, not the current trend of running them out of town because they don’t want to do it, the way you failed at for 20 years.

    I’m gonna go cool off, but Thank you from some of us, Mr. Wright

  4. While Mr. Wright is just bursting over with academic psychobabble and buzzwords I’m not sure he has the pulse of Natchitoches Parish running through his veins. Not sure how long he has lived in Natchitoches but he has no clue as to the divide between city and parish politics. He obviously doesn’t know that the residents of the parish have been funding the frivolity of the city for too many years to count. He must not know that every parish property owner funds the CRWC to keep Cane River at pool level so that nine property owners on the lower end of the lake can use it for irrigating their crops while the parish farmers have to spend many thousands of dollars drilling wells for theirs. The city wants to spend millions of dollars redoing the riverbank in hopes that it will bring in more millions of dollars worth of tourist money. The city residents don’t give a big hairy rats butt what the parish resident’s need but they sure don’t mind taking our dollars. Most of rural Natchitoches parish doesn’t even shop in Natchitoches any more. The retailers are plain ol’ nasty, the traffic is horrendous, the store owners try to make you feel like they are doing you a privilege by allowing you to spend your money in their place. I invite Mr. Wright to go to Many, Mansfield, Shreveport, Alexandria, Ruston, Monroe etc. and experience what someone who appreciates your business feels like. I’m not sure where Mr. Wright gets off on even mentioning the RMWS in his Unicorn farts Kumbaya diatribe but the RMWS is a private corp. and not subject to any taxing authority in Natchitoches parish. Ya’ gotta’ grow up man and do your research if you’re gonna try and make it in Natchitoches parish. There is a clique here. Always has been and always will be. Natchitoches is “old” money”. New money is tolerated only to the extent of what it can bring into the “old” money coffers. The crap you’re spouting belongs in the communist state of Virginia which you are from. Don’t even dare to come down here and try to tell us how to run our business when you don’t have a clue to our history.

    • Mr. Wright is a military brat and veteran. I have been in and out of Natchitoches since 1996, when I was 10. I was primarily raised in Branson rather than the Chesapeake Bay…I probably understand the circumstances Natchitoches is under better than the next one. In fact, my 3rd great grandfather was Justice of the Peace from 1868-1878 in Natchitoches. If there is old money, I am it. Aside from the obvious, this is a letter concerning centralization/decentralization. This is not a letter concerning polarization/politicization…just as a sole commissioner would be an argument of socialization/stratification. But that’s black belt in the art of babble.

      • Hey Nikki:

        Good article. Keep up the good work.

        For those of you who do not know Nikki, by the time Nikki was 21 years old, he had served 2 terms in Iraq on the front lines.

        Nikki returned home to Cloutierville and has been engaged in cutting edge research since his military service ended. While some might disagree with his premises, we should all give our veterans a little extra consideration when debating them.

    • This is to just respond to the comment about shop owners on front street and the way they treat the public. Mister you’ve never been in All Tangled Up Family Hair Salon before. We are located at 516 Front Street. We have never ever made a client feel it was a privelesge for them to walk in the door and we sure weren’t nasty!! We treat each and every client or passer by with a warm hello, cup of coffee or beverage. It is my honor they chose to visit our establishment. We want them to tell their friends about us and all come back. We cut, color and do numerous styles for women’s hair as well as our Barber Jorge can give men straight razor shaves. We have a very welcoming atmosphere and would love for you to come see for your self. I pray you have a very good day now ya hear😉

    • Why can’t we do something about the divide between the city and parish politics. It seems a few like them things stirred up. But in all reality we should all come and work together to make things better. Put all our selfish agents and past events that don’t matter anymore aside. It can be done. It’s up to the players.wouldnt it be an awesome example to show these young ones coming up how to really work things out. Not be my side and yours your side, it all be ours and proud of it! Love conquers a multitude of sin and problems. Loose the bitterness.

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