The Parish Council discussed one particular item on its agenda at length during its meeting Monday evening, June 15. The item was to adopt the adjusted millage rate or rates and set forth the adjusted millage rates or rates and roll forward to millage rates or rates not exceeding in the maximum authorized rate or rates.
The Health Unit collected 3 mills last year and the legislative auditor rolled it back to 2.94 mills. Public Buildings collected 3 mills in 2019 and was also rolled back to 2.94 mills. The Library levied 8 mills last year and was rolled back to 7.85 mills. Road District 40 was at 7.85 mills and was rolled back to 5 mills. Exempt municipalities went from 1.73 to 1.7 mills while general alimony went from 3.47 to 3.41 mills.
If the Parish chose not to roll forward on these millages they’d collect basically the same amount of money on those rolled down, an approximate $1.9 million at a difference of around $21,000 more if they were rolled up.
The Council has 4 years (including 2020) to roll these millages forward. Council member Jim Kilcoyne said this regarded raises in property taxes and he’d rather wait and get community input before the Council rolls anything forward. All the Council members were in favor of leaving the millages as they are, but John Salter suggested that the Parish should be getting money from all these millages and that the Council needs to take a closer look at it. He feels that the millages should all be maxed out.
Salter also said the boards for the different millages could decide to donate or contribute money toward repairing roads in the Parish, much like the recent Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Cane River Waterway Commission to repave Fish Hatchery and Bermuda Roads. He thinks this is the right thing for these groups to do because the hospital’s ambulances use the Parish’s roads, along with the Library’s Bookmobile and Fire District trucks. This is something they’ll be looking into with the newly formed Finance and Budget Committee.
Council member Patsy Hoover added that the Council has given tax cuts to companies like RoyOMartin and Alliance Compressors and she feels they should help with fixing the Parish roads as well. She gave the example that organizations and businesses could donate the cost to fix 1 mile of road.
We’re supposed to be working as a team in this community,” she said.
The final verdict was to leave the millages as they are with the exception of the Road District 40 tax, which they will roll forward. The Council will revisit rolling the other millages forward next year.
Another interesting agenda item was one to approve the cost of additional engineering work necessary to proceed further with East Natchitoches Parish Drainage project for the Louisiana Watershed Initiative Grant. These additional costs shall not exceed $5,000 on the Parish’s part. The Toal costs are around $20,000 and will be shared between the Parish, the City, the Levy and Drainage District and the Cane River Waterway Commission. This will help drainage from East Natchitoches (Blanchard Road Subdivision area) all the way to the Hampton Road area.
Nick Verret, who’s working on the project, said other projects can be submitted in the future to improve drainage conditions in other areas of the Parish.
Options for this particular project include diverting water to Cane River Lake or building a pumping station to send water into the Red River, which Verret said is the best option.
Another interesting agenda item was to discuss new bin sites and computer sites for solid waste (Kilcoyne voted against this item). This includes taking the site at Firetower Road and moving it to Gorum by the old school, closing it in and making it a control site. The Parish won’t be charged to put the site at this location, but a fence will have to be built and the Parish will have to maintain the section of the road leading to the site and lighting in the area. Another site, located on Base Spring Road and Hwy 490, will be moved adjacent to the Curtis Grocery store in Chopin. The third site, located on Hwy. 156 in Goldonna will be enlarged and a compactor will be added. Two employees will be assigned to each site for a total cost of $5,100 per month. This is an effort by the Parish to better serve residents by keeping rural areas clean.
Agenda items included:
Re-appoint Edward Ward to the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority Board
Re-appoint Tom Outz and Doyle Hays to the Fire District No. 8 Board
Appoint Yolanda Horton, Annetta Miller, Dorothy Washington Duke, and Lula Williams to the Sewage District No. 2 Board
Amend the budget for the government building fund, criminal jury compensation fund, law enforcement officer criminal witness fund, disaster recovery fund, and the courthouse security capital outlay fund
Appoint Council members Jim Kilcoyne and Chris Paige to be on the Finance and Budget Committee
Appoint the Natchitoches Times as the official journal in Natchitoches Parish
Authorize the Parish President to sign and execute the Multi-Jurisdictional Consortium Agreement with the Coordinating and Development Coordination for the purpose of establishing a consortium to carry out programs and activities as authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Authorize the Parish President to sign and execute a Community Water Enrichment Fund Agreement with the Louisiana Division of Administration for the purpose of potable water improvements for community water systems in the Parish
Authorize the Parish President to enter into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with the Cane River Waterway Commission for the rehabilitation for Fish Hatchery Road
Remove the last 1,130 feet of Cloud Crossing Road from the Parish Road System
Amend the 2020 Operating Budget to create Fund 221 Payne Sewer LCDBG Project
Surplus the Old Creston Polling Place Building
Effect a zoning exception to the I-A Industry-Agriculture District zoning classification for Cypress Baptist Church for the purpose of establishing a cemetery on the 1.2 acre tract of land where the church currently exists