A public hearing was held before Monday night’s City Council meeting, June 24, to address the proposed 1% sales and use tax that was introduced at the June 10 meeting. The tax would go toward the operation and maintenance costs associated with running Parc Natchitoches, the new sports and recreation complex the City is building on University Parkway. Mayor Lee Posey said he received no opposition when he reached out to hotel and business owners in Natchitoches Development District C, which encompasses most of the area around the I-49 exits and some of University Parkway (See Photo Below).
Mayor Posey said the City knew going into this project (Parc Natchitoches construction) that they’d need help with operation and maintenance costs. He explained that money from a 1% water and sewer tax ($18 million) rededication was split so that $9 million would go to water and sewer and $9 million would go to the construction of the sports complex (with a over $1 million bond to cover the approximate $10 million project cost).
The municipal building, which is being used while the Arts Center is remodeled, was packed to capacity. Some business owners voiced their excitement for the sports complex, but voiced their concern over the fairness of a tax for one district and not the City as a whole. Posey said this is just the first step and that they will be looking to other businesses.
Business owners seemed less than enthusiastic when it was confirmed that a sales and use tax will tax not only the customers who stop at the Natchitoches exit, but the business owners as well. Another factor they didn’t seem too happy about was that NSU will receive half of the money generated by this tax. Posey said NSU is trying to keep up with larger universities and they need updated facilities for recruitment and to host events that bring people to Natchitoches (track conferences, homecoming, etc…). He said an average of 20-40 teams will come in for a tournament. Doing the math, 30 teams is estimated to bring in $375,000 per tournament. Five tournaments a year means upwards of a $5 million economic impact for the City, not counting soccer tournaments which the City has never been able to host.
“We can’t be sure the extra revenue will be enough to offset the O&M costs,” said Posey. “This is why we’re proposing this sales and use tax.” He said the City may be capable of supporting it, but it’s already looking at investing around $300,000 for equipment (mowers, concession stands, etc…). Sponsorships may help but after encountering somethings that were unexpected, Posey said they’ll still need money for O&M costs. NSU offered to help in some areas, but Posey said there will have to be at least one dedicated person with a few part time people to work at the complex.
In initial conversations, it was stated that the sports park will be used by Northwestern State University for intramural sports and as a recruiting tool. While Council member Eddie Harrington was out of town fro the meeting, he did comment on the NPJ’s live stream where he stated, “My initial understanding was that NSU would maintain maintenance on the park as well as provide security and student workers due to the fact that NSU will have substantial use of the park for tournaments and rec sports at no cost. However, under the newly proposed tax NSU is no longer to provide maintenance and is in fact receiving funds from the tax. What are the reasons for the change and is it still a possibility for NSU to provide maintenance?”
2. What is the plan for ongoing maintenance if the tax does not pass? Are there any non essentials, such as beautification, that can be delayed to help fund the purchase of needed equipment?
The tax will be up for final vote at the July 8 City Council meeting, so more discussion can be expected.
Other agenda items included:
ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:
Authorize An Agreement And Amendment To Easements Between Evans Family, L.L.C. And The City Of Natchitoches, Providing For The Asphalt Overlay Of A Gravel Road And Further Amending The Terms Of Existing Rights Of Way In Favor Of The City Of Natchitoches And Authorizing The Mayor To Execute The Said Agreement And Amendment To Easements On Behalf Of The City Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.
Amend And Re-Adopt Section 22-36 Of The Code Of Ordinances, Which Said Section Is Within Article III, Entitled “Cane River Lake” Of Chapter 22 Entitled “Parks And Recreation”, Said Section Being Amended And Re-Adopted To Amend Regulations Governing Watercraft Operation During Fireworks Displays, Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.
Approve A Conveyance Of A 4.774 Acre Tract Of Land In Section 74, Township 9 North, Range 7 West, To Archie’s Towing Service, L.L.C., For The Sum And Price Of $254,500
Execute A Certificate Of Substantial Completion To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Sunstream, Inc., For The Electric Distribution Rehabilitation For Quida And Jackson Street Project