Parish Council member throws wrench in efforts to approve RoyOMartin tax exemption

Perhaps the most interesting portion of Monday night’s Parish Council meeting, Sept. 21, dealt with tax exemption applications for Roy O Martin that were denied at the Aug. 17 meeting.

Roy O Martin III, CEO of Martco LLC, came before the Council to ask them to reconsider their previous vote. The applications presented at August’s meeting were the 60th or 70th tax exemption applications that have come before the Council and formerly before the Police Jury.

Roy said they monitor government entity websites so they know whenever an agenda item comes up that concerns them within the 32 parishes they do business in throughout the state. The Parish Government failed to publish the agenda for August’s meeting to its website.

Roy came to the September meeting to let the Council know that he’s submitted an appeal to the Louisiana Board of Commerce and Industry and to ask the Council to reconsider its vote from August and write a letter of support for the tax exemption applications instead. Northwestern State University President Dr. Chris Maggio and State Senator for District 31 Louie Bernard came to show their support.

When a motion was made to amend the agenda to approve said letter (which requires an unanimous vote) Council member Patsy Ward Hoover voted no.

The Council has until Oct. 14 to submit a letter of support and Council member Chris Paige said they can hold a special called meeting if they need to in order to get the ball rolling on this.

In other news, the Parish’s Office of Community Services relocated and has been operating out of its new location at 700 Trudeau Street for a week now.

Parish Treasurer Julie Lockhart reported that the recent audit came back with no findings and that this is the second time in 10 years that the Parish has had a clean audit. It will be presented at the Council’s October meeting.

Other business included a presentation by Kristin Delahoussaye with the Capital Area Finance Authority, which is a housing finance authority based out of Baton Rouge that offers grants to first time home buyers through its lending partners. Operating in 49 parishes now, Delahoussaye asked the Council to consider entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement. First time home buyers would benefit from grants giving them up to 7% toward their downpayment and closing costs, while the Parish would benefit from some income from fees associated with the process (dependent upon parish and lender participation).

During his Parish President report, John Richmond updated the Council that TESI has indicated their intent to require “compensation” before they’re willing to donate the sewer system for the Payne Subdivision Sewer Improvement project. Richmond said he notified Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of TESI’s change of heart and asked for his involvement. He also said that the CEA for the Fish Hatchery Road project has been received and signed. Surveying has begun and bid documents are being prepared. While the project was delayed due to Hurricane Laura he expects work to begin before the end of the year.

In other business, the Council tabled an agenda item to amend the Parish of Natchitoches Personnel Manual to provide that effective Jan. 1, 2021, the job position of Council Clerk is a part-time position, and to set the salary for that part-time position.

Other agenda items included:

Reappointment of Mark Swafford, William D. Musselwhite and Mary Ann Motter to the Fire District #3 Board.

Emergency Ordinance 16-2020 to authorize the Parish Planning and Zoning Department to waive all fees on permits issued for work to repair damage caused by Hurricane Laura (retroactive to Aug. 27), which shouldn’t exceed an estimated $5,000. This will only be available to parish residents through the end of October.

Approve the assessed value levied by Natchitoches Parish Tax Assessor Dollie Mahoney for Alliance Compressors c/o Emerson Climate (Assessors Value is $25, 847, 867 and Alliance requested $11, 375,000), Dollar Tree (Assessors Value is $642,400 and Dollar Tree requested $445,668), and Family Dollar (Assessors Value is $525,400 and Family Dollar requested #333,198).

Adopt Ordinance 015-2020 for budget amendment for Highway Fund, CoCo Bed Capital Outlay Fund, Fish Hatchery Capital Outlay Fund, Old River Road Capital Outlay Fund and 201 Capital Outlay Fund.

Approve Resolution 042-2020 to allow Natchitoches Parish Government to provide Health Insurance and other benefits to employees and retirees which meet eligibility requirements for the following departments: Highway, General Administration, Finance, Solid Waste, Planning and Zoning, Health Unit, Government Buildings, Library, Tenth Judicial District Court, District Attorney, Criminal Court, Public Safety/Civil Defense, Registrar of Voters, and OCS employees.

Award bid for highway department pneumatic roller to Scott Equipment.

Award RFP 2020-01 to DRC Emergency Services for debris removal due to Hurricane Laura and RFP 2020-02 to Witt O’Brien’s for debris monitoring services, which are estimated to cost a combines total of $1.5 million (75% of which will be reimbursed by FEMA with the potential for 90% reimbursement should Louisiana breach a threshold for total damage. Richmond feels this is very likely considering the amount of destruction throughout the state.).

Enter into a lease and/or CEA with Hagewood Water System to allow the system to use a portion of the Parish’s property at 6354 Hwy. 485 in Robeline to connect the system to the Sabine Water System for emergency backup water supply.

Authorize purchase of a new loader under State Contract #4400015170 in the amount of $155,715 from Scott Equipment, which failed with a 3-2 vote (Hoover, Kilcoyne and Salter voted this agenda item down).

Approve selection of projects and submission of applications for Capital Outlay funding by the state of Louisiana for the following roads: Payne Subdivison Phase II, Pardee, Hart, Harmony, Goldonna, Bayou Derbonne and Blanchard.

14 thoughts on “Parish Council member throws wrench in efforts to approve RoyOMartin tax exemption

  1. Appox 120 homes equals a little over 6k per home on the 750k grant money.,.Just give each home owner a 6k grant to convert to an individual system and wash your hands of the whole mess.

    • Hom much a month do they pay for sewer per household. Where I am at runs about 50 a month give or take depending on water usage.

  2. On the Roy O. Martin tax exemption…

    At issue is $9,200 per year of tax savings for the company. Mr. Martin said last night they pay something like $3 million in taxes annually, all taxes included. Okay, so it is hard to see how the additional $9,200 would cause adverse hardship on Martin Inc.

    Yes, the parish government would entertain any and ALL requests for tax exemptions that would generate economic development and JOBS! for the parish. This was just a request for an extension of a 10-year exemption for a project that happened back in 2007, if I heard Mr. Martin correctly. We also learned of the 750 employees at the Chopin plant, only about 300 are Natchitoches residents.

    It is also true that the $9,200 annually hardly puts a dent in the money woes of the parish. But, still, the council felt that amount would better serve the people of the parish vs. a $multi-million corporation.

    • Penny wise and pound foolish.

      Multimillion dollar companies are the ones that can bring 100s and 1000s of jobs. This attitude is completely anti-business and hamstrings any economic development in the area.

  3. All of you who work for Alliance need to call your councilmen. These Council members are going to be responsible for Alliance leaving Natchitoches. First, they turn down the tax exemption and now they approve an assessed value of 25millionnwhich as I read is over double what Alliance says the property is worth. You won’t need to fix any roads once you run every employer out of town. Absolutely ridiculous.

  4. On the issue of changing the parish clerk position to part time, it was tabled last night, but is still an issue. In the archives of the NPJ this issue was addressed on August 26, 2016 and there is also an article in the Natchitoches Times from that time. Both have documented evidence that the clerk spends most of her time engaged in personal activity on the taxpayers’ computer. The reports from back then have 44,000 pages of computer forensics of the clerk engaged in personal email, Facebook, ordering on Ebay, etc…

    The parish clerk has a salary of $49,000+ and full benefits which runs the cost up to $63,000. Some have made this a personal matter, trying to defend the exorbitant salary with expressed concerns for the individual currently holding the position. I see it as ‘what is good for the parish taxpayers as a whole” matter. The projected annual savings to parish government will be about $35,000.

    This is a part-time position as there is simply not enough work/responsibilities to justify a full-time employee. The amount of time spent engaged in personal computer time clearly shows this.

    If you share the opinion this should be a part-time position, then make your voices heard. Contact your parish council representative.

    And, this is just one matter, on a long list of issues. I read comments here and on Facebook on how “stupid” parish government is on a variety of issues. It is easy to be a keyboard jockey and cast dispersions on those of us trying to make a difference. And yes, sometimes the criticism is deserved. I know I try to be “perfect” but have fallen short of it my entire life. How about you? But I can say this with 100% certainty, I am fighting for the whole parish. Our roads are deplorable…for starters. And I, and a couple of others, are trying to find as much money as we can in the current budget to improve the roads without the need of tax increases.

    • Reading what you have posted has given me personally a little more faith in what you’re trying to do. You seem to be looking for the money and where it is going and being used for. Information like you are providing goes along way to gaining public support well in my case anyway.
      Transparency is the platform most of you ran on,but you seem to be the only one living up to that. Thank you!

  5. I have always found that paying up front for work to be done, even if it is not a donation, is an invitation to be hoodwinked in to paying for something that will never be finished. My very wise father once told me, if a company asks for the money up front, you will probably never see the completion of the job by that company. Reputable companies don’t normally ask for money up front, unless it is for a custom job a customer wants. This smells a bit like the sewer that needs repair.

  6. During his Parish President report, John Richmond updated the Council that TESI has indicated their intent to require “compensation” before they’re willing to donate the sewer system for the Payne Subdivision Sewer Improvement project. Richmond said he notified Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of TESI’s

    John Richmond when in the hell are you going to quit jacking around with this company? Now they want compensation for a donation!
    Please explain how in the long run the parish in not going to be on the hook to pay for this. Is TESI going to get the system in perfect working order before it changes hands? Are they going to correct all epa issues before it changes hands? Is the new district going to be able to manage and maintain the system to the state required standards?

    And finally a question I’ve been wanting to ask for a year now. Why would a company want to donate a piece of their business if it was a profitable part of what they do? I think it’s because of what shape it’s in and the cost it’s going to take to bring it up to required operating standards and all that goes along with that. If a new small district can take this over and make it work when a company in the business can’t,then after this project is up and running they need to take over management of the parish roads.

    • The ordinance passed to allow the donation to occur has specific language in it that forbids the parish from spending any money on the Payne Sewer System, except for administrative costs in trying to make the transition happen.

      Also, given what has happened, and on other issues, the other council members, myself included, have soured on supporting this project.

      As to why TESI would want to donate this system, well, they also wanted to donate the other three systems they operate in Natchitoches Parish, all of which have lots of costly problems. These systems might generate cash flow for TESI but only because they hardly spend any money on them in proper repair and maintenance. These systems here, and indeed most of the ones TESI owns, are more liabilities than assets.

      Maybe the donation will go through, or maybe it won’t, but in either case the parish council has washed its hands of it and there won’t be any taxpayer money spent on it.

      • Jim thank you for your information.
        Question! Why hasn’t the state not stepped in and held TESI or their parent company responsible? There is raw sewage standing in people’s yards due to the condition of this system. These public systems fall under state regulations and must comply to operate. WHY has it gotten this far out of hand?

        If I read correctly any transfer of property containing a sewer system public or private must be inspected and any issues must be corrected by the seller. Is this part of the proposal between TESI and the new district?

        • The state and the EPA have stepped in. TESI is under something like 40+ court orders to address issues on all their holdings in Louisiana. I may be wrong about this but I think TESI owns 90 sewer systems in the state, 4 here in Natchitoches Parish.

          TESI has been sued, many times, which is why we thought they would happily rid themselves of one of their troubled systems. That is also why TESI approached us about making it a package deal, all 4 of their parish systems to be donated.

          Since the ordinance passed and the process started TESI has sent contractors to work on the Payne Sewer System and now they are holding out to be reimbursed for those expenses. The grant, of about $750K, is barely enough to bring the system up to standards, according to the engineers. But the grant won’t be provided until after a public entity has ownership of the system. If it happens it will a pass-through from the parish to the newly created sewer district.

          For the sake of the residents of Payne Subdivision, I hope this works out for them. President John Richmond is working on it. But, there will be no parish taxpayer money spent on it.

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