Parish council stalls on property tax for road maintenance

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Proposed road district map

By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Voters in the Parish may get a chance to vote on a sales tax to be used on roads after action at the Parish Council Monday. They won’t get a chance to vote on an ad valorem tax as well. Parish President Rick Nowlin had proposed a combination of sales and ad valorem tax for road maintenance and presented that plan to the council. The council voted Monday to create a sales tax district that includes the parish but excludes the City of Natchitoches and Campti. Creating a district is the first step to getting a tax on the ballot. The council must now vote at its Nov. 19 meeting on whether to put the sales tax on the ballot. If they do so, the tax could be on the March ballot.

It will be for a half-cent and should generate about $1 million a year. The council squelched the attempt to put a road maintenance property tax before the voters. Nowlin proposed creating four road maintenance districts with an ad valorem tax to be voted on in each district. Any tax generated would remain in that district after it was passed by district voters. But the council did not agree with Nowlin.

Council member Doug deGraffenreid made four motions to create the individual districts and the four motions died for lack of seconds. Consequently, voters will not get a chance to decide if they want a new property tax to finance road maintenance. One of those districts would have included the area around the City that is Ward 1; the second would be on the other side of Red River; the third would be west and southwest of the city; and the fourth would include the Cane River area and south.

Those districts would have coincided with voting precincts. Council member Russell Rachal said he did not favor a property because so many people would be exempt such as people in the city who also use the parish roads. He asked Nowlin if the city could be included in one of the formulas.

Nowlin said the council would have to decide if including the city would help or hurt the tax. Rodney Bedgood, who represents an area from Goldonna south to Cloutierville, said he didn’t think the ad valorem tax would pass among the rural voters. “You also have people around Sibley Lake waiting for us to pass this,” Doug degraffenreid said. “The city is waiting to see what we’re going to do with Ward 1 because they want to suck up Sibley Lake into the City limits.”