Proper street repairs incur additional costs

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Update on hotel tax

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The City Council approved the only agenda item, a resolution to execute a change order on the street rehabilitation project, at their Jan. 28 meeting, however, it was mention of the tax collection from Chateau St. Denis that had council members and attendees riveted.

Councilman Eddie Harrington asked attorney Ronald Corkern to provide an explanation concerning the City’s request for records from Tax Collector Jerry McWhorter. Corkern said he had spoken with McWhorter on the issue. He said McWhorter alleges he initially “…contacted other cities including New Orleans and did research” to determine whether the “value added” package at Chateau St. Denis was taxable.

Corkern said at that time McWhorter determined it was not, but in June of 2018, Tourist Commission Director Arlene Gould, at the direction of her board, requested an opinion from the La. Attorney General’s office on whether the “value added” package was taxable and whether the hotel should pay the back taxes.

Corkern said McWherter provided information to him, but not in writing. At Harrington’s urging, Corkern said he would ask for written records.

The change order between the City and Regional Construction for $353,157 to include additional repairs received a unanimous vote. Project engineer Nick Verrett recommended the change order. Chief of Staff Edd Lee told the council the engineer was challenged to find problems and fix them. He cited underlying soil conditions, utility conflicts, culverts and other issues “…you don’t know are there till you get in there to do the work” as reasons for the necessity of the change order.

Areas involved in the change order include:

•Breda Avenue (Texas Street to Bayou Jacko) to replace a deteriorated 60-inch corrugated metal pipe;

•Dixie Street (St. John Street to Bivens Street) where, during the process of pulverizing the roadway, a shallow water line was hit and the existing base material was saturated. Repeated attempts to dry it out were unsuccessful and ultimately replaced.

•Martin Luther King Drive (Head Start Center to Berry Street) for drainage issues, shallow water lines and unmarked structures.

•Natchitoches Regional Airport parking lot for asphalt overlay. Including the project in the current contract, rather than a separate contract is cost effective.

•Pavie Street (Dixie Street to Salem Street) where a larger catch basin was determined necessary.

•Robbins Drive where an 8-inch corrugated metal cross drain pipe was deteriorated and in need of replacing.

•Rowena Street (Breda Street to Railroad Track) to replace subgrade soil

•Sabine Street (Dorothy Street to Dixie Street) for a new concrete driveway to access the warehouse at the purchasing department and to replace a deteriorated side drain pipe.

•Sanford Street (Thomas Street to end of previous overlay) for reconstruction of a manhole. •School Drive (Dalme Drive to Tennis Court parking lot) to meet specifications of the Natchitoches Levee and Drainage District for pipe replacement.

•St. John Street (Holmes Street to Breda Avenue) to eliminate shoulder drop-off

•Thomas Street (Payne Street to North Street) for adjustment to a manhole elevation.

•Winona Street (Sixth Street to Highland Park Drive) for inclusion in the existing project.

In addition, costs for additional lime and lime treatment for several streets was included. These unforeseen issues resulted in a net overrun of the contract prompting the change order.