The Natchitoches Parish Council meeting on Jan. 19 began with what seemed like a game of hot potato. Needing to elect a new chairman and vice chairman of the council for the 2021 year, members tossed it around, each turning down the positions for various reasons. It all ended when Chris Paige begrudgingly took on the position, saying that he really was too busy to accept it. After no one wanted the vice chairman position, it was left up to Paige to temporarily appoint someone until a more permanent decision could be made. He appointed Jim Kilcoyne, who said he’d fill the position for one night only.
“We’re all busy but we were elected to do a job,” said outgoing chairman John Salter, who turned down a second term as chairman.
Other noteworthy business brought before the Council included the appointment of Anthony Moore to replace the late Laney Wright on the Natchitoches Parish Planning and Zoning Commission. The Council voted to table this particular item until they could try and get more applications.
Patsy Ward Hoover questioned why there was “a rush” being put on appointing someone to replace Wright, who’s “only been dead a month.” David Kees explained that while he tried to be respectful of Wright, who was one of the most faithful members of the Commission, he’s afraid the Commission may not be able to meet with a quorum if the position isn’t filled quickly.
Moore introduced himself to the Council and said he’d be happy to return when this item is brought back before the Council.
Other board and commission business included appointing John Broussard to replace Elvin Shields and reappointing Calvin McFerrin, Felix “Clint” Perot, Ed Giering, and Edward Colbert to the Water Works District 1 Board.
In other business, the Council voted to adopt a resolution ordering and calling a special election to be held in Sales Tax District No. 1 of the Parish of Natchitoches, State of Louisiana, to authorize the levy of a sales and use tax.
A sales and use tax voted on by Parish residents in 2010 is set to expire December 31, 2020, which resulted in the loss of funds specifically dedicated to the Parish’s solid waste fund. Since no ballot initiative was put before the voters in 2020, a new tax will have to be approved by the voters in 2021.
The initiative will be placed on the April 24, 2021 ballot. If voters approve the collection of this new tax to fund the solid waste department, the tax will become effective on July 1, 2021.
According to the Parish president, while the expiration of the tax will result in the loss of funds for the first half of 2021, there are plenty of funds on hand and there will be no interruption of services provided by the solid waste department. All bin sites will remain open and Parish residents will still be able to dump trash and limbs at the landfill free of charge.
Parish Treasurer Julie Lockhart did confirm that if the tax doesn’t pass in April the Parish Government will then be facing a lot of cuts. She said she’s not sure what will have to be done if this happens.
Other agenda items included:
Introduction of ordinance to change zoning from I-A to B-1of property owned by Roger Collum, located east of Clarence heading north east toward the lake (1458 Hwy. 1226). It will be used by the Butte Tribe so they can build a cultural center so they can teach visitors and future generations about the tribe’s history.
Introduction of Ordinance 002-2021 to establish the Natchitoches Parish Fire Protection District 6: Fire Prevention Bureau. FD 6 Chief Michael Sesvold said this is a step toward raising the district’s fire rating which is currently a Class 4. They hope to raise it to a Class 3 through this process.
Adopt Ordinance 020-2020 to affect a zoning exception to the I-A zoning classification for a .500 acre tract of land (parcel #0040081700) to establish a family cemetery. The property is situated in Section 33, T10N, R6W, along Hwy. 1226 in Natchitoches.
Adopt Ordinance 021-2020 for 2021 Budget Amendments for the Sales Tax Fund, Solid Waste Fund, and the Highway Fund.
Authorize the Parish President to pursue and/or accept State funding for the relocation of a section of Marco Road damaged by erosion (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).
Approve an additive change order for the road pulverization project previously awarded to W.E. McDonald and Sons Contracting LLS in the amount of $60,761 for a new anticipated total of $199,437. This proposed new total amount is within the previously approved budgeted amount of $250,000 (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).
Award bid for HP Cold Mix for 2021 to the bidder Diamond B Construction.