Parish Council: Home Rule Charter or Police Jury form of government?

Parish Council March 19

Despite Parish Council Chairman Rodney Bedgood’s highest hopes, the meeting Monday night, March 19, did turn into a bit of a circus. It seemed that the majority of residents who packed the courtroom already made up their minds that it’s in the best interest of the Parish to revert to the old Police Jury form of government.

Only 3.7 percent of the $30 million collected annually in property taxes goes to the roads. “Changing the form of government won’t change anything,” said Parish President Rick Nowlin. “It’ll only put the people back in charge that messed it up to begin with.”

Nowlin is referring, in part, to the approximate $1 million debt he inherited to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center when he took over. Since he’s been in office he’s paid around 1/3 of it.

While residents are fed up with hearing Nowlin and the Council members chalk up the Parish’s problems to a lack of money, it’s the root of all the problems. While the Parish claims it’s a matter of raising adequate funds for the road fund, residents blame expensive salaries and mismanagement.

David Lewis and Robert Jackson Sr. requested that the Council vote to consider the introduction of an ordinance to be proposed by a referendum to the voters during the Nov. 6 election, in the form of a question as to whether or not Natchitoches Parish residents want to continue under the Home Rule Charter form of government or revert back to the Police Jury form.

Council members Russell Rachal and Doug de Graffenried were unwilling to vote in favor of this agenda item because they agreed with Nowlin that changing the form of government won’t change the financial problems the parish is currently facing (No vote was made).

“Your road problem is a $233 million problem,” said de Graffenried. Rather than let the public decide, three of the five Parish Council members (Hoover, Paige and Bedgood) chose to vote down an ordinance geared towards fixing the deplorable road system in Natchitoches Parish at the Council meeting July 17.

The meeting ran well after 8 pm and while there was a courtroom full of people waiting to talk before the Council, Rachal called for a vote to adjourn. Patsy Ward Hoover and Chris Paid voted against it, but were outvoted, so the meeting came to an abrupt end.

Agenda items included:

Appoint Billy Joe Harrington to the North LA Criminalistics Laboratory Commission Board

Reappoint Richard Galloway and Peggy Braxton to the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority Board

Introduce ordinance for budget revisions to the 2018 operating budget to the general fund, highway department, solid waste, sales tax, and Hampton and CoCo Bed Roads.

An item to consider allowed another attempt to repair and rehabilitate the Shady Grove Community Center, or in lieu of its current status, to allow it to return to the church was tabled till next month’s meeting

Roll forward on the ad valorem taxes: General Alimony of 3.47 percent (increased from 3.39 percent in 2017) and Exempted Municipalities of 1.73 percent (increased from 1.69 percent in 2017). Parish Treasurer Debbie Miley said both of these taxes (about $964,000 annually) go to the Parish’s General Fund. With the Parish providing over $1 million toward inmates, criminal court, public safety, the coroner’s office and more; every dollar of it makes a difference.

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14 thoughts on “Parish Council: Home Rule Charter or Police Jury form of government?

  1. How will changing from HRC back to the police jury system get more money to fix the roads? The jury had years and never did it. All a change would do is give a few members a chance to start over with their term limits that are about to be done. Left overs from the old jury which they didn’t do a lot while there or on the HRC. That’s the only reason they have wanted to change from the start and have put up a fight against anything that was good for the parish .

  2. I strongly recommend going back to the Police Jury system. I have a home and property on Pete Carroll Road and the road is always in deplorable condition. When bad weather causes a tree or large limbs to block the road, local residents have to get their chain saws to remove the tree and limbs. Much better service was provided under the Police Jury system, because the responsible Police Juror would take action when called. If requested, he would personally come out to review the situation. Some residents have used their own equipment to fill in large and dangerous holes in the road. I know that money is tight, always has been, and always will be. But, the priorities for spending needs to be totally reassessed.

  3. I grew up in Natchitoches Parish and the police jury was the governing body at that time. Our road was dirt but always passable. In 1989 we moved back home and there was still a police jury. with a jury man that was accessible by phone. If we had a problem he came immediately and drove that road and reported to his road supervisor and the problem was fixed in a timely manner. Those years grader drivers knew how to work the road so that water ran down the ditches instead of down the middle of the road. now the water runs down the road cutting trenches, sometimes across the road and makes it almost impassable. Nothing is ever done about this. I live near there now but still pay quite a bit of taxes on property there. I believe the police jury system works, It is certainly not working with these people in control now.

    Faye Walker Binning

    • Yes it is but doing it is not as simple as saying it. The way to correct the maldistribution is for voters to refuse to raise, renew or extend taxes dedicated to overfunded activities such as the tax assessors office. And then vote in favor of propose new or increased taxes dedicated to roads.

  4. We have one of the largest Parishes, and one of the least populated. It is a recipe for disaster. All you hear is “My road! My road!”. I wonder if people really understand how much it takes to pave a road. I saw a comment on one of these stories a while back about a 6.5 mile road that had around 60 homes on it. They were demanding it to be paved. Paving a road that long would cost in the millions. And for just 60 homes?!? There are streets in town that thousands of people drive on everyday that are in terrible shape. Logic and reason have to kick in at some point right?

    • The missing link is logic and reason!!! first off is the campti mill taxes to the parish is what amount–does anyone know the amount–My peeve about it is that amount whatever its is should be totally used on road repairs since the timber industry loggers and mulch haulers plus all the other 18 wheelers going to the mill are what tear up our roads the most–It would logically seem that at least 99% of it be towards road repairs and the other 1% to the thieves–

  5. I just wish there was a way we could vote on “integrity.” The administration expenses have grown astronomically since the HRC plan was put into place. There are many secretaries and assistants making lovely salaries with benefits. That wasn’t so during the police jury system. This has been Mr. Nowlin’s gravy boat. He has made over $500,000 in his time in office! We have had our own ENGINEER on permanent salary!!!! check surrounding parishes. Whoever heard of such? They hire the engineer on an as-needed basis, saving their people’s money. Under the HRC, each council member is the spokesperson for a huge section of the parish…5 for the third largest parish in the state. Unrealistic. And besides, no need/decision/request by a council member can be made to the group as a whole since Mr. Nowlin must approve it. We have a dictatorship that has plugged any hope of improving even a marginal quality of living for the people of Natchitoches Parish who do not live in the city. And that is frustrating!

    • well said Linda.We all know that their baby and number one money maker
      is precious Front Street and the Christmas Festival that’s all they care about and they try selling Natchitoches as retirement utopia…PFFF.there is no good places to eat here or shop and of course roads suck,you would have to buy a 4 wheel drive to get down most roads on a dry day.

  6. I love the guy with the blue jacket,sleeping during meeting.I sure appreciate
    the hard work they put in for the people.LOL

  7. we do not need the police jury back and the whole system is a circus,i am sure they wanted to end the meeting and not hear from the people.There is a reason Louisiana is voted worst state in the country,it begins with our crappy government and infrastructure and small towns like Natchitoches that get in its own way.I say fire everyone and put people in we trust.

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