Registrar and Treasurer appointed at Parish Council meeting

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

The Parish Council meeting Monday lasted two hours but several key items were addressed.

The Council:

•Appointed a registrar of voters

•Appointed a parish treasurer

•Awarded solid waste contract

•Granted a tax exemption to Alliance Compressors

•Extended agreement with IBTS for two years for permitting and building permit services

•Voted to move forward with maintenance on Kayla Drive and Beau Vista Road

•Approved addition of a meeting room at the library branch in Campti

The council appointed Kathrin Woodard-Holden registrar of voters from 16 applicants. Holden has worked in the Clerk of Court’s office for 22 years. The registrar’s salary was not available at press time from Parish Government. Holden will assume the position once certified by the La. Secretary of State. After interviewing and rating the top eight applicants, the committee recommended the names of Holden, Kecia McConathy and interim registrar Debbie Tebbetts.

On the first vote, Russell Rachal and Doug deGraffenreid voted yes for McConathy and Pat Ward-Hoover, Chris Paige and Rodney Bedgood voted no.

On the second vote, Rachal and deGraffenreid voted no for Holden and Ward-Hoover, Paige and Bedgood voted yes. With three votes for Holden, there was no vote taken for Tebbetts.

There was unanimous approval to name Julie Lockhart parish treasurer. Her starting salary will be $67,200 or $5,600 per month. Lockhart was the recommendation from among 25 applicants. She is a native of the Campti-Creston area and has worked at the Natchitoches Outpatient Clinic for the past year.

The council awarded the solid waste, or trash collection contract, to Waste Connections for an annual price of $930,000. The other proposal was from Acadiana Waste Services for a price of $1,286,024. Trash collection bins have decreased from 180 sites in 2012 to 32. Also concerning the waste collection was declaration of the transfer station to be surplus property. That will allow for Waste Connections to lease the site and invest $300,000 in the equipment at the landfill. The transfer station will remain property of Parish Government.

The transfer station is equipment that weighs and compacts the trash taken to the landfill. In the past, the Parish received as much as $3 million annual income in fees collected on trash and solid waste from the City, Winn and Red River parishes, Red River Waterway commission, Northwestern State and other entities. Also at that time, a surplus in the solid waste fund, funded partially by transfer station fees, could be transferred to the highway department for road repairs.

Under the current contract, Waste Connections does not pay for waste from other entities that is processed at the transfer station. The Parish now receives only a small rebate of $1,200 to $1,500 a month. Rachal voted no on awarding the contract.

The council approved as 10-year tax exemption to Alliance Compressors on a $14.5 million proposed expansion. It will amount to approximately $15,000 annually for 10 years. Parish Government extended the contract with IBTS for two years for building permit services. Interim Planning and Zoning Director David Kees said the contract will be more economical than hiring a certified director since there is a shortage. Residents who live on Kayla Drive and Beau Vista Road got good news at the meeting.

The Council directed Public Works Director John Richmond to proceed with maintenance on those roads that will be equally funded by residents and Parish Government. Scooter Perot, who lives on Beau Vista, was perturbed with the council saying he circulated a petition and presented bids to the council but no action has been taken since he was at the council meeting in April. He was angry that he was on the meeting agenda but listed as a non-agenda visitor at the end of the two hour meeting.

“I’m upset with the process. You didn’t put me on the agenda. Who is responsible,” Perot asked. He also questioned if the money for the Council’s half was available. Sensing Perot’s disgust with his treatment, the council directed Highway Director John Richmond to proceed with the project.

Richmond questioned what would happen to future requests if the highway budget was depleted at the end of the year because of non-budget items such as the two projects. Richmond was not against the two projects but said there was no money in the budget for them. “Get the two roads done now,” deGraffenreid told Richmond.

“Let’s approve Scooter’s road and deal with what comes later,” Ward-Hoover said.

Under the agreements, residents on Kayla Drive will pay $17,000 of the $38,000 costs for maintenance on a portion of the road. Residents on Beau Vista have agreed to pay $9,000 of the $18,000 total in a similar arrangement.

Library Director Jessica McGrath got the go-ahead to add a meeting room to the Campti branch. Since the branch opened in 2016, it has averaged 900 clients per month and has 44 monthly programs. McGrath said the meeting room now holds about 10 people and the summer reading program is held in a nearby church. She proposes that the new room will have 1,000 square feet and will cost $150,000. McGrath also spoke about the possibility of building a branch in the western part of the parish since the library has $2 million saved for that purpose.

Parish President Rick Nowlin reported on a proposed courthouse security project. The original proposal was for $960,000 of which Parish Government was to pay half with money from the government buildings tax fund. The State was to pay the other half. Now the cost has grown to $2.3 million with additions and Parish Government will be responsible for an additional $750,000 if it agrees to the increase. There are two options with such features as holding areas for inmates away from employees and the public, holding cell and lock out doors, security passages to the courtroom and relocation and enlargement of the small courtroom.

In other business, the Council reappointed Anita Dubois and De’Andrea Sanders to the Natchitoches Parish Children and Youth Planning Board; approved Thomas, Cunningham, Broadway and Todtenbier to perform control and compliance audit in addition to financial audit; and adopted a proclamation honoring Janice Bolton, La. Realtor of the Year by the La. Realty Association.