Preacher Pounds on Potholes

This morning, Doug de Graffenried, met with the Walter P. Ledt Coffee Club as Natchitoches Parish Council District three councilman.  The topic of his talk was a method for funding road improvements in Natchitoches Parish.  de Graffenried proposed to place two questions before the Parish voters. The plan would divide the Parish into four separate road districts. Each district would be presented with a proposed ad valorem tax to fund road repairs for that district.  Below are Doug de Graffenried’s proposal and tax map.

NPG-PreacherPoundsPotholes 03-2017

I once led a church that built a big new sanctuary years before I arrived. The preacher told the church they could build a huge sanctuary and they wouldn’t have to give much money. He convinced them they were all going to be rich because of the Tuscaloosa Trend. That was the name of a shale oil field from late 1970’s that ran across the Florida Parishes. The shale oil leases never showed up. The church did pay for the sanctuary. It was sixteen years later that the debt was paid. The church paid big money for their big sanctuary. Even in church work, nothing is free.

I think about the “Tuscaloosa Trend” money every time I listen to people complain about their roads. I want to ask them a question. “Where do we get the money to fix your road?” Yeah, the Road District 40 tax passed. That generates $1,076,000 a year. It is not enough money to fix your road! Your road is not the only road in this Parish. We need a little clarity of thought. Mathematically we don’t have enough income from all sources to begin to fix the road problem. You are experiencing 40 years of road neglect. Fixing the neglect will take money, time, and patience. It will also take a cogent plan.

To give you an idea of the size of the Parish road system, if you got on Interstate 10 at the Texas state line and drove west all the way across the state of Texas on Interstate 10 that is roughly the same number of miles of roads we have in the Parish Road system. That is over 800 miles, folks. Take your potholes and multiply it by 800 miles and you see the enormity of the problem. 90% of the Parish roads are “failed” roads. A failed road has more hole than road.
How, I wondered could we begin to honestly address the pitiful conditions of the roads in the Parish?

Simply put I propose that the Parish is divided into four new road districts. You would need to vote on this proposal.

I propose a 16 mill ad valorem road tax for each road district. You would need to vote on this proposal too.

If your district passes the 16 mill property tax the revenue raised in your district is spent on the roads in your road district, exclusively. This money is spent on roads only. No equipment. No shenanigans, roads only! You will have access to this information and you can hold government accountable.

If your district fails to pass the 16 mill property tax, you can observe as the districts that passed the tax have their roads fixed. The boundaries of these new districts have nothing to do with the political boundaries of the Parish Council. These road districts are about roads, nothing else. I can explain to you how the size and shape was determined, but you will quit reading.

It would be a 10 year tax. You would see the results of passing this tax, quickly.
There are many steps before this idea is fully formed. There are other things we need to do in conjunction with this tax idea. This is my idea, do you have an idea? Not a theory, but a bona fide, idea.

Talk among yourselves….

Call Doug with your input and ideas:  318-357-8296

Doug’s Proposed Tax Districts Map

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7 thoughts on “Preacher Pounds on Potholes

  1. The takeaway here is that we are the biggest parish but one of the smallest populations. Fifty years ago there were more plants, and there was more state funded construction. We built what we cannot now afford to maintain.

    I benefit from this well kept and aptly curated little town as much as the merchants do. It’s a nice place to live. Find another city with fun, family type, things to do all year around. Frankly I doubt the merchants make a killing. I believe most are happy to operate shops in a fun city, and make a decent living. To my knowledge none are fabulously wealthy.

    Downtown is an industry. It brings in revenue. I don’t know that it pays its way, but it contributes monetarily.

    People who live on acreage, along sparsely populated roads, enjoy certain benefits; more personal freedom, more privacy, greater control of their personal surroundings and solitude. Many city dwellers envy them.

    The important thing they lack is population and commerce – the same things they enjoy. No Wal-Mart in their front yard, so they spend their dollars miles away in someone else’s front yard. They can’t expect those taxes to benefit them; they benefit the people whose view from their den is the Wal-Mart sign.

    And there is not enough population to create a political action group, let alone pay nearly enough in taxes to maintain all those roads.

    It’s useless to blame downtown. Thousands benefit from it; many of you have acreage exceeding downtown’s area and few benefit from that. The downtown merchants work hard to keep the industry viable and relevant.

    Doug’s plan is a start. It’s got a far better shot at success than taking cheap shots at downtowners and politicians. Get off your hands and pitch in. Talk to Doug, and others, instead of clawing at the city’s perceived pot of gold. You just might find people will be more sympathetic and more wiiling to help when they know you are dilligently trying to help yourselves.

  2. Isn’t it unfair for property owners to bear the burden for road repair? I think everyone should help pay. Also if you want to send your child to school in a district that has higher property taxes than where you live, then you should be required to help pay on the higher tax. It also would not hurt to get smarter road engineers and workers who cared beyond their paychecks. Personal pride in a job well done seems to be no longer important.

  3. How are the road districts defined? By population or income adjustment of average income of citizens in each district?

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