Why would Council members want to obstruct the business of the government they represent?
City Council member Rosemary Washington took a page out of Parish Council member Patsy Ward Hoover’s playbook from the Parish Council’s March 15 meeting.
Hoover voted against an agenda item claiming lack of information despite warnings that delaying the completion of the state project risked the Parish being held liable for damage delay claims.
Similarly, at the City Council’s March 22 meeting, Washington made a motion to table an item, claiming a lack of understanding of the status of the project, to execute a second change order to the contract between the City and DSW Construction for building renovations of the new National Park Service Warehouse for the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, located at 760 Sixth Street (SEE GRAPHIC BELOW).
It was also stated at the meeting that a tour of the facility is being planned for Council members later this week to see the final results. However, Washington said she wanted to table the item until the tour could take place so she can “see the progress of it” before she approves the change order.
Contractually, the work has already been completed and the City only has so many days to make payment on the contract, so depending on when the pay requests were issued, if the item was tabled at the March 22 meeting, the City could be in fault of the terms of said contract. By voting to table the item, Council members Washington, Betty Smith and Chris Petite have brought the risk of defaulting and costing the City more money. Council members were told that even tabling the item for two weeks could negatively impact the City.
City Attorney Alex Washington said since the work is complete, the balance is owed. He recommended the Council pass the agenda item instead of running the risk of defaulting.
To sum up the project in question, the leasing of the historic Natchitoches Train Depot and the Eagle Distributing Warehouse to the NPS has been in the works since 2019. The 20-year lease agreement is for $130,000 annually which covers the warehouse and depot renovations. The way the loan is structured so the lease payments retire the entire debt involved with the total debt of the Park Service deal.
The CRCNHP officially vacated its former park headquarters on Rapides Drive on Feb. 26. They’re currently working with the City of Natchitoches and the Cane River National Heritage Area to rehabilitate the Train Depot building not only into offices, but also the park’s first-ever visitor center which will be open to the public. Around 1 million artifacts have been moved into the climate controlled space warehouse.
So besides the Council having plenty of knowledge of the project as it progressed, and every chance to become involved, Council members receive information on meeting agenda items the week before the meeting is scheduled so that they’ll know what they’re voting on, so that things don’t potentially harm the City by being held up.
In other business, a few items were mentioned regarding amendments to the 2020-2021 budget to reflect additional revenues and expenditures. Parc Natchitoches had to be supplemented $200,000 because due to Covid, rentals have been down and some revenues have been delayed so at this point it’s not operating in the black.
Utility Electric sales are negative $1.2 million because the City is no longer selling kilowatts like in previous years so the electrical revenue is down. It’s also due to some accounts being late due to Covid (some will be offset by OCS assisting with housing payments) and schools being closed last year during the pandemic as the City entered its budget year, including Northwestern State University.
However the Cares Act Funding was increased by $1.2 million, which was received in 2020. This will help offset some of the utility loss, which is what it was designed for.
Declare The Week Of April 13-18, 2021 As National Community Development Week In The City Of Natchitoches
ORDINANCES – FINAL:
Award The Bid For Caustic Soda For The Water Treatment Plant (BID NO. 0634)
Enter Into A Water Agreement With The Village Of Powhatan, Which Said Agreement Provides For Sale And Delivery Of Water By The City Of Natchitoches To The Village Of Powhatan, Providing For A Five Year Term, Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.
Enter Into An Agreement For Emergency Assistance By And Between The LEPA Member Cities, Providing For Emergency Assistance Between The Members Of LEPA, Compensation And Term, Further Providing For The Appointment Of A Director And Alternate Director To The Board Of Directors Of Louisiana Energy And Power Authority, Providing For Advertising, Further Providing For Severability, And Further Providing For A Repealer And Effective Date Of Ordinance.
Execute An Agreement Or Lease Of Public Property And Airspace With Red Sky Adventures, LLC, Whereby The City Of Natchitoches And The Board Of Commissioners Of Waterworks District Number 1 Will Lease Public Ground And Airspace Pursuant To The Terms Of R. S. 33:4712 And R. S. 33:4712.1 To Red Sky Adventures, LLC, To Provide For A Public Hearing, To Provide For Advertising, And A Savings Clause.
ORDINANCES – INTRODUCTION:
Approve A Memorandum Of Cooperative Endeavor Between The City Of Natchitoches, The Red River Waterway Commission And The Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau To Promote The Use Of The Red River For The KingKat Fishing Tournament
Approve The City Of Natchitoches Entering Into An Employment Contract With Special Counsel And Further Authorizing The Mayor, Ronnie Williams, Jr., To Execute The Attached Employment Contract On Behalf Of The City Of Natchitoches
Amend Ordinance Number 002 Of 2021 To Correct A Typographical Error Changing The Zoning Classification From B-2 To B-3, For Said Tract Owned By Braxton Keyser, LLC, And Further Providing For The Fixing Of A Public Hearing, Advertisement, And Providing For An Effective Date Of The Ordinance.
Authorize The Mayor To Execute Change Order No. 3 To The Contract Between The City Of Natchitoches And Regional Construction, LLC For Phase 3 Street Rehabilitation
MOTION TO TAKE RESOLUTION NO. 016 OF 2021 FROM THE TABLE
Commit To Pay Administrative Fees For LCDBG HVAC Program And Hire Frye Magee LLC As LCDBG Administrative Consultant
The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Monday, April 12, 2021.
The offices of the City of Natchitoches will be closed Friday, April 2, 2021 for Good Friday.