Better roads or industry tax exemptions? Senator seeks input

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

State Sen. Jay Luneau spoke to the City Council Monday during its pre-meeting about several issues, but mainly about how the Legislature will address tax exemptions. Luneau asked the Council for its input on local business and industry seeking future tax exemptions. According to Luneau, Louisiana grants $5 billion annually in tax exemptions. He said keeping that amount for just one year would solve every bridge, highway, infrastructure and water problem facing the State. He said Louisiana had the most generous tax exemption practice of any state.

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What has prompted the discussion is how the Legislature will address the matter in the future. He said Exxon is seeking a $7 to $8 million exemption that was turned down by the East Baton Rouge School Board. “I’d like to hear from you,” Luneau told the council. “Keep this in mind when these projects come up.” The Legislature will also address such issues as adopting a budget, replacing infrastructure and giving raises to teachers. Luneau addressed the need for legislation to address ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber.

He advocates that the companies operate in Alexandria, Pineville, Monroe and Natchitoches, or cities smaller than the “big seven.” He said that they could be already operating in smaller cities such as Natchitoches if they so choose. He advocates background checks for their drivers, an arbitration clause and regulations such as those for taxi companies. During the regular meeting, the council passed a resolution asking that the Legislature pass a comprehensive, uniform and statewide set of regulations to ensure that ride-sharing companies are available to all residents of the state.

Mayor Lee Posey said that the hospital would favor such services since there is no public transportation in the city. During the meeting, the council voted to allow a variance of the side and front yard setbacks at 433A East Third as requested by Christine and Andy Ferrell; and extended the City limits on Hwy. 6 in relation to the entrance to the recreation and sports park.

The council introduced the following ordinances:

•Amend boundaries of Economic Development District to remove a portion near Interstate 49

•Enter Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with Sheriff Victor Jones Jr., and Waterworks District 1 to remove City from maintenance of building, piers and docks on Sibley Lake

•Authorize cooperative endeavor agreement with Historic District Business Association The council passed the following resolutions:

•Advertise for bids for electric distribution rehabilitation for Quida and Jackson Streets

•Authorize change order by Progressive Construction Co., for St. Denis water line replacement and street rehabilitation

•Authorize contact with Titan Aviation Fuels The next scheduled meeting of the City Council will be Monday, March 11. On that date, there will be an open forum from 6-7 p.m. at the Natchitoches Arts Center to discuss city projects, plans and future development to obtain input from the community.