By Dennis Coleman
How many times have we heard the slogan “No Taxation Without Representation” which originated in pre-United States of America? Countless, no doubt. In those years tea was looked upon as a necessity and when a tax was levied on that commodity with the ‘colonists’ having no voice back in England…well it led to the Boston Tea Party and to a revolution. It seems people have always sought representation when tax dollars are concerned.
So, if we fast forward about 200 years to the serenity of Natchitoches Parish it is truly difficult to imagine the citizens being taxed without representation, but they were. And they have been since. As some would remember, in 1982, under a fairly new Constitution our state legislature enacted a resolution to wit: “There is hereby created a body politic and corporate of the state of Louisiana which shall exist in perpetuity and be known as the Cane River Waterway District…” Further it was determined that the ‘district’ would be administered by a ”Commission” and funded by up to a 10 mill tax on all property in Natchitoches Parish for the purpose creating a “Navigable Waterway.”
With the stroke of a pen, the Red River oxbow impoundment had become the Cane River Waterway with not a single vote being cast by the citizens of Natchitoches Parish. All the citizens from Ajax to Flatwoods and Marthaville to Goldonna had themselves a ‘navigable waterway’ and would be required to fund same in “Perpetuity.”
I guess the best comparison for this is the story about the two farmers who operated adjoining farms. They both lived west of the ‘Big Muddy’ with Pierre’s farm joining the river and ol’ Joe’s place being on the other side of Pierre’s farther away from the river. The government being ‘fair and impartial’ taxed them both equally. As far as benefits…Pierre could use the river to irrigate his fields, use it for recreation and around Christmas people would come from miles around to see his nativity and spend money in his store while there. For his tax contribution, Joe could fish the Big Muddy. As I said, this is just a story.
In 1982 came the deregulation of natural gas and the end of the biggest Oil Boom in our nations history. Now, our state and parish operate in a more austere manner. It has become apparent to many that our priorities must be reevaluated, and taxes be reapportioned. After all, in these days of automobile transportation, does it not make more sense to adequately fund a navigable roadway than a navigable waterway?