Lee Waskom: Position Paper No. 5

I am Lee Waskom and I am running for Parish President to make a difference in Natchitoches Parish. We need new, effective leadership in our Parish. The Current Administration has been unable to solve our problems.
This position paper will be my last before early voting ends and the primary election of October 12th! Please remember to vote!
Through these position papers, I hope I have helped illuminate the multitude of areas under the jurisdiction and management of the Parish President and Parish Council. Natchitoches Parish needs a successful business manager, that can efficiently steward our limited tax dollars in a much more cost effective and fair way to citizens of all of Natchitoches Parish.

Today, I would like to discuss with you the Government Buildings Fund and the Health Unit Fund. The revenue source for each of these funds is a 3-mil property tax levied parish-wide. Revenue for these Funds is collected by the Sheriff’s Tax Collection Department and the majority of it is distributed in January of each year.

The Government Buildings Fund is a dedicated fund for the maintenance and operation of the Parish Courthouse, the Old Parish Courthouse, the Live Oak Building, the old Highway Department Building, the old Robeline Library building and numerous polling places.

The Parish Courthouse, which is home to the Tax Assessor, the Registrar of Voters, the Sheriff’s Department, the Clerk of Court, the District Atttorney’s office, the 10th Judicial District and Parish Administrative offices, is scheduled for an expansion project for security improvements. The majority of the funds for this project are being funded by the State through the Capital Outlay program.

The Live Oak Building, which is located at the corner of 2nd Street and St. Denis Street, houses the Coroner, the Child Support Division for the District Attorney’s office, and the Parish Finance Department. The Live Oak Building has benefited from cosmetic upgrades and a roof replacement in recent years, but work is still needed to replace deteriorating pipes throughout the building.

Currently, the Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association utilizes the first floor of the Old Parish Courthouse, which is in dire needs of maintenance and repairs. Plagued for years with a leaking roof, the building needs lead paint, mold and asbestos remediation. Upgrades to its electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling systems are also needed. One of my main priorities will be to obtain grants and outside funding needed to bring this historic building back to its original glory and to provide much needed space for other departments.

Many of the buildings owned by the Parish, such as the Old Robeline Library, are vacant and are not being used. A study of the financial cost of maintaining these buildings verses the benefit of ownership is needed. As Parish President, I will explore the options of revitalizing the buildings and putting them back to use for the public or declaring them as surplus and putting the taxpayer’s money to better use on the buildings that are being used.

The Parish Health Unit Fund supports the maintenance and support of the Health Department, as mandated by La R. S. 40:12 and 40:26. $300,000 of the revenues generated by the Health Unit Fund are transferred annually to the General Fund for the purpose of funding inmate costs. Monies from the Health Unit Fund are also utilized to pay for costs incurred by the Coroner’s office for interdictions and pauper burials.

The Parish’s mosquito control program is also operated out of the Health Department. With the rise of mosquito-borne illnesses and diseases, the Parish’s Mosquito Control operations should be given more resources. Previous efforts to contract out services have fallen short of expectations. A study for developing and funding an in-house operation for trapping and testing for outbreaks should be explored.

Finally, the Parish has been setting aside monies from the Health Unit Fund each year for the construction and operation of a parish-wide animal shelter. Currently, the City of Natchitoches operates its own animal shelter and the responsibility of animal control outside of the City has fallen on the Sheriff’s Department. Non-profit organizations such as the Humane Society and Hope for Paws help fill in the gap of caring for and adopting out abandoned animals but more should be done by the Parish to fulfill its mandated obligations in this area. As Parish President, I will meet with all interested parties and will explore all options available, including outside funding opportunities, to better serve the animal control needs of the residents of the Parish.

These positions papers that have been presented to you, the voters, to help educate the public on the duties and responsibilities of the Parish President. We need new leadership and a new approach to solve, not only our road problems, but to more effectively merge and consolidate the many mandated programs and costs to the Parish, that are required by state law.
As your Parish President, I pledge to remove waste from our budget, consolidate resources and maximize use of our current revenues. The current administration and its leadership have failed to provide the most basic needs regarding our infrastructure and their patchwork attempts to put lipstick on this pig has been a miserable failure!

We need new leadership.

I humbly ask for your vote.

Vote Lee Waskom #85