The Natchitoches Parish Council held its Feb. 22 meeting with a long list of agenda items dealing with a tax exemption, inspecting library funding, taking a section of road out of the parish road system, and more.
- Approve the reappointment of Carol ‘Quinn and Carletta Jones to the Natchitoches Water Works District 2 Board.
- Approve the reappointment of Landon Amberg to the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission Board.
- Approve the appointment of Brittany Bedgood to the Natchitoches Parish Housing Authority Board.
- An agenda item to reinstate the Summer Youth Program was brought up under old business as it was voted down by the Council at its January meeting. The program is for the parish youths to have a summer job when school is out to help them learn the value of working and earning income with two six-week sessions at $10 an hour for a total of 10 children (5 per session), choosing one from each District for a total of $26,000 per both sessions. Paige called for an amendment to the agenda item to change the time period from six week to five weeks, but the motion failed with Council members Kilcoyne, Cheatwood, and Allen voting against it. The vote to approve the reinstatement of the program itself also failed with Kilcoyne, Cheatwood, and Allen voting against it.
- A similar situation, an agenda item to authorize the Parish President to submit a late State Capital Outlay funding request for the Hard-Surfacing of Five Forks Road was brought back before the Council under old business. It was previously voted down. The project would cover Five Forks Road from its junction with State Highway LA-1265 t o St. Matthew Baptist Church, with total estimated cost of $561,668 including planning and contingencies and Parish match requirement of $140,417. The second time, the Council unanimously voted to authorize the submission after listening to Rev. Steven Harris speak on behalf of the church’s congregation and some of the residents that live down the road.
- Adopt Ordinance 001-2023 t o amend Article IX Section 9-09 (B) of the Natchitoches Home Rule Charter to reapportion and define the boundaries of the five single-member Council Districts in accordance with the 2020 US Census.
- Adopt Ordinance 002-2023 to remove part of Jim Rivers Road from the Parish Road System (650 feet of road).
- Adopt Ordinance 004-2023 to affect a zoning change from an Industrial-Agricultural (IA) District to an Industrial-Agricultural (I-A) District with a special exception for a cell tower on approximately 160-acre tract (parcel # 0095033200A & 0090033200) with a variance for relief from the setback from the western property line to 211 feet. The property is in Sections 79, 82, & 85, Township 8 North, Range 7 West with no physical address, as shown on the Survey attached hereto, approved by the Parish Planning Commission on December 5, 2022.
- Sign the Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire for the audit of the Natchitoches Parish Government for the year ending December 31, 2022.
- Approve a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between Natchitoches Parish Government and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (which amount has increased from $296 to $304 per month).
Other Agenda Items:
- Council to approve Industrial Tax Exemption Application #20220260-ITE for Marco, LIC ($9,538,206). A percentage of this has already been approved by the school board. Council member Kilcoyne and Cheatwood abstained from voting, but the item still passed.
- An agenda item was tabled that would award the contract for Cross-Drain Replacement on Industrial Avenue to Regional Construction ILC in the amount of $45,250. The Council wants to see if Weyerhaeuser would be willing to share the project costs with the Parish.
- The Council also discussed page 54 of the 2021 audit of Library funds. Beginning Jan. 1 of 2021 the fund balance for the library $6,864,931. This was their assets on their balance sheet at the beginning of the year. They ended the year (Dec. 31, 2021) with $7,831,269. Dec. 31 of 2022 the fund balance unaudited $8,641,865.
It’s a little confusing because revenue received in January and February was earned in 2022. So the money in the bank on Dec. 31, 2022 is not what they actually ended the year with because you have to acknowledge the funds when you earn them, not when you receive them.
Library employee Mona Bamburg has lived in the country for over 30 years. When talking about numbers, the library has over $5 million in savings with a plan to build two more branches and buy a new book mobile. The library only gets its money one time of the year that they have to live off of for the rest of the year. So while the numbers are large, there are plans for every penny of it. The numbers the Parish would get from the library (4 of the library’s 8 mills) will only do roughly five miles of paved road.
“I’m not going to sit here and go along with the killing of the library,” said Council member Chris Paige.
- Sign a Memorandum of Understanding and other related documents for distribution of the Louisiana State-Local Government Opioid Litigation Settlement.
- Authorize the Parish President to choose the most financially reasonable rental option and sign contract with La Cat Financial for Graders.
- Contract with Public Surplus to dispose of surplus items.