Danger: Parish Road Maintenance Forecast

Perhaps the most jarring item on the Parish Council agenda Monday night, Aug. 20, was a brief regarding a Parish road maintenance fund forecast Parish President Rick Nowlin requested Parish Treasurer Debbie Miley prepare for the next two fiscal years (2019 and 2020), along with a comparison to the highway fund budget last year (2017) and this year (2018). SEE DOCUMENTS BELOW.

Over the past few years, the Parish Government has dealt with the enormous problem of trying to maintain roads with the funds it has available. Its efforts, for the most part have been directed to keeping as many roads passable as possible. Major improvements and/or asphalt overlays are simply beyond the Parish’s financial capability.

In addition, due to the frequent major storms experienced in the past three years and the cost of road repairs they made necessary, the Parish had to expend large sums of money on projects not included in its regular maintenance plans. Even though FEMA has reimbursed the Parish for up to 75% of the cost on some of these projects, the cost to the Parish has been heavy and the reimbursements can take over a year to be received.

At the same time, operating costs have increased, especially in health care costs. This has put additional pressure on the highway fund.

The figures show that, at the present level of revenues for road maintenance, the highway budgets will continue to decline to dangerously low levels. In fact, by the end of 2019, the department balance carried forward into 2020 may not be sufficient to fund operations in early 2020. This means the Parish may have to start reducing its present level of road maintenance in 2019. This would be a disaster for the Parish. Even so, the Parish will make the reductions necessary to stay within the funds available.

The administration presented a plan that would not only improve the road maintenance effort but also provide funds for much-needed improvements to and re-construction of major roads. The plan includes both an ad valorem road tax to be collected and spent on a district basis and a sales tax plan for parish-wide improvements. Both are necessary to implement the scale of improvements truly needed.

If the tax measures fail to be approved by the voters, the Parish will have no choice but to scale back its highway repair work.

Nowlin understands the reluctance to support new taxes of any type. Taxes aren’t popular at any time. The problem the Parish faces is that, although most residents may say that the condition of the roads should be top priority, the amount of funds dedicated to roads is very small when compared to other local government functions. Specifically, the road tax represents less than 4% of the total property taxes paid every year.

Other agenda items included:

  • Appoint Joseph Jones and re-appoint Laney Wright, Ricky Sanders, Charles Roge, and Lamarr McGaskey to the Natchitoches Parish Fire District 1 Board.
  • Reappoint Johnny Nobles to the Natchitoches Parish Fire District 2 Board.
  • Appoint Mardy Summerlin for the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission.
  • Introduce ordinance adding CP-Tel as a cable franchise providing cable services to Parish residents outside the City.
  • Adopt ordinance for budget revision for the 2018 operating budget.
  • Adopt ordinance to amend the 2018 proposed budget revision submitted on July 23 requesting a transfer not to exceed $30,000 from the special projects line item in the highway fund 101 to a new fund for the Odra Levee Project.
  • Approve Natchitoches Regional Hospital request for a bond application and the supporting NPHSD bond resolution (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).
  • Authorize Parish President to renew leases with John Deere for five motor graders.
  • Approve getting annual insurance quotes for Parish insurance.
  • Execute an agreement between owner and contractor with WL Bass Construction for the Hampton Road Improvement Project.

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13 thoughts on “Danger: Parish Road Maintenance Forecast

  1. I wonder if the general population of Natchitoches parish is aware of the cost of doing road repairs. I also wonder if those of us who live in this Parish know how many miles of “Parish roads” the Parish government is responsible for maintaining. If I am remembering correctly Natchitoches is the largest Parish in the state. I have only lived in this parish for several years so If it has not been done I would really love it for someone in the Parish government to please tell us the total amount of roads they maintain, and what the total cost of repairing all of the roads that need work, would cost , IF, they had a magic way to get that money.

    I believe that you will find that the money necessary to do all of the repairs, is far and away higher than most folks can imagine, and even if the parish spent all of their budget on just repairs they would still only be able to fix a small amount of the roads that need work. , Can someone please get these figures?

    J. Robertson

  2. they had done some patch work on hwy 6 west right before Robeline
    and that thing is crazy wavy,and their is two leaving Robeline that is rougher than Chinese algebra .Road crew are idiots .

  3. What do you people think, we are not stupid people just because we live in the southern end of the parish. You gave us the same story last time you wanted a tax and you got it and we got nothing. If people give it to you this time they really are stupid.

    • Right. If they would get rid of all those high paid positions that are no necessary they would have it. This town is too small for all those top City Positions and pay their insurance and give them free cars to drive free gas and even have paid health and life insurance.

  4. People leave here and relocate to Texas, Florida, elsewhere for a better quality of life and, oh, have you looked at the property and sales taxes charged on homes, vehicles, etc. in those other locations. In other words, they go where they can get what need and are willing to pay for it. There are those here who will hold this community back by being unwilling to support a few extra millages that when paid by all that will cover the need for better roads as well as other important needs. Our parish is making do with what we have. No one is satisfied with our roads, but where will the money come from to put a better infrastructure to back up t h e pretty face that Natchitoches shows its tourists if not a local tax increase?

    • If they would get rid of all those high paid positions that are no necessary they would have it. This town is too small for all those top City Positions and pay their insurance and give them free cars to drive free gas and even have paid health and life insurance.

  5. The “so called” temporary road work fixes that they attempted to repair on Sisson Road is a joke. The fixes again, are short-term and the result a week later after the attempt to repair is increased dust from passing vehicles, deep divots/bad spots in the road, and continuous maintenance upkeep, more than normal, on our vehicles.

  6. Maybe we should do as article states and dedicate a larger percentage of our funds already being collected toward roads.

    I agree. We need to get a hold of someone else’s playbook.

  7. The article clearly states that other areas dedicate more of their funds to road maintenance than does Natchitoches. But our solution is just tax more rather than do as other areas do and use more of money already being collected on our road maintenance.
    I think we needed to adopt someone else’s playbook a long time ago.

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