Parish Council members Rodney Bedgood, Russell Rachal and Chris Paige shut down the creation of road tax districts 1-4 at a special called meeting Oct. 29. Each ordinance died for lack of a second (Patsy Ward Hoover was Absent and Doug de Graffenried gave the motion for each).
The Council did pass an ordinance to create a sales tax district 2 containing all of the Parish except the City of Natchitoches and the Town of Campti because they are at their max for sales tax. Sales tax is something everyone pays.
Rachal said the only fair tax is a sales tax and Nowlin agreed because then everyone would have some skin in the game. However, Nowlin said a sales tax is also a regressive tax because it disproportionately impacts low income people.
Paige seemed uninterested in the road tax districts. “This is you guys’ thing as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “You know where I stand…I’ve been sitting here [Parish Council] 8 years where we went from one-point-something million dollars to half-a-million dollars now and no work has been done [in Payne Subdivision]. It doesn’t take that long to do the little work we have done out there. I have talked till I’m blue in the face over Payne Subdivision.”
“You also have people around Sibley Lake waiting for us to pass this,” said de Graffenried. “The City is waiting to see what we’re gonna do with Ward 1 because they want to suck up Sibley Lake into the City limits.”
“You can’t stop that anyway,” said Paige. Doug’s response was, “You fix their roads.” Doug suggested the Council perform an experiment and at least create Road District 1, which would have the best chance of passing.
“Let’s let the voters speak,” he said.
Paige said he won’t vote against the people in his district. “You [de Graffenried] sit and vote against Head Start and I’m always gonna have a problem with you and I don’t know if it’s from a racist standpoint or what, but it’s a serious problem.” This statement was in reference to de Graffenried voting against the submission of an application for Head Start. Doug told the NPJ that he voted no because he believes it would be better for the children if the Head Start was managed by an entity with more educational experience.
“I care about the kids,” said Doug at Monday night’s meeting. To which Paige responded, “I see you do. That’s why you voted against it. This clannish attitude is what you have to deal with down here.”
In reference to Payne Subdivision, Parish President Rick Nowlin said funding for has bounced around over the last several years, totally due to actions by the state of Louisiana and its Capital Outlay Program. It had nothing to do with the Parish of Natchitoches or anyone working for the Parish. Nowlin has been corresponding with people in Baton Rouge over the last two weeks to get this thing moved forward. There is $500,000 committed. Of that, $200,000 is Priority 1 money and $300,000 is Priority 5 money, which won’t be available until after July 1, 2019. The Parish could go to construction on the project and wait to be reimbursed by the state when it gets the $300,000. However, if the Parish moves forward and spends all the money ($300,000 plus the Parish’s approximate $167,000 project match) and doesn’t get reimbursed, it’s just spent the money it would need for road maintenance in the second half of the year. “I don’t think we have the funds to take the risk,” said Nowlin.