The Parish Council meeting on July 15 was uncharacteristically brief. Perhaps the most important news to come from it was the announcement that as of July 15 the Head Start Program previously operated by the Parish Government is officially under the organization Save the Children. The goal is to have 310 children enrolled in the Head Start programs in Natchitoches and DeSoto Parishes. Of those 270 will be children ages 3-5. The other 40 will be enrolled in a new program called “Birth to Age 3.” This new program will take up five classrooms across the program because there’s an eight-child-maximum restriction per class.
The transition will be gradual and the Parish is working hard to make sure it all goes well. Head Start agreed to extend the Parish’s grant by one month to assist int he closeout. Employees’ last day under the Parish Government was June 30. They were sent letters informing them that they will be required to apply for positions under Save the Children. Head Start agreed to put money into reserves to pay for any unemployment that may or may not occur. The Parish is currently negotiating this number, which could be around $300,000 (worst case scenario/total liability). A more solid number should be reached in the next day or so and an official press release announcing the transition will be released soon.
Regarding health insurance rates for the Parish, they’re already anticipating rates to rise considerably next year. The Parish may have to get creative to keep affordable insurance when the time comes. As for the Head Start employees, their insurance ended on June 30 when their employment ended with the Parish Government. However, Save the Children has confirmed that benefits will become active immediately when staff is hired (no waiting period to get picked up).
Agenda items included:
Adopt Ordinance 005-2019 to effect a zoning change from an I-A Industry-Agriculture District to a B-1 Business District for commercial use on a 23.57 acre parcel on Hwy. 120 in Natchez.
Approve temporarily moving Precinct 4-3 at the St. Augustine Catholic Church Hall (2250 Hwy. 484) to the Cypress Police Jury Voting Building for the two elections on Oct. 12 and Nov. 16. After Nov. 16 election the polling place will return to the Church Hall.
Authorize Parish President to acquire additional rights-of-way at the Clark Road Bridge replacement site for the relocation of a CLECO transmission line. The line needs to be relocated because otherwise it would have to be de-energized during the construction process. The length of time this would last would cause problems for the City. CLECO offered to pay for the cost of relocating the line if the Parish would purchase the rights-of-way, which is 60-feet wide by a few hundred feet in length.
Introduction of Ordinance 012-2019 Budget Revision for the Solid Waste Fund.
Adopt Ordinance 011-2019 for a budget amendment to the Operating Budget for a highway fund amendment. This is actually two amendments being made to a budget amendment introduced at the June 17 meeting. This will move $20,000 from crushed concrete (which the Parish isn’t using as much of) to base materials. The second amendment is to move $40,000 from equipment purchases to special purchases to cover projects like the Beau Vista and Kayla Drive cost share agreements. This would be a 50/50 cost share deal with the Parish paying half of the project cost and the residents paying half. The Beau Vista Road project will cost roughly $18,000 to fix 500 feet of road. Kayla Drive is estimated to cost $34,000 for 800 feet of road.