Just Talkin’ – June 5, 2019

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JT was somewhat perturbed about a television news report recently about critics of the Home Rule Charter form of government who say the people should be able to vote on whether to revert to the police jury form of government. Lord deliver us! The main critics of the Home Rule Charter (HRC) are former police jurors who want nothing more than to return to that archaic form of government. What’s most puzzling is why they suddenly want to give the public a chance to vote on it. Well the public did vote on it.

As a matter of fact, 60 percent of the voters wanted to move to another form of government, the Home Rule Charter. Chris Paige is the leading proponent of giving the people a chance to vote—-again—-when Chris never, never ever voted to put the Home Rule Charter on the ballot. For over 20 years, he consistently voted even against putting the HRC on the ballot to let the people decide.

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Now he wants to give the people a chance to vote on going back to the police jury. And consider this. for the first time ever, under the HRC, Payne Subdivision is about to get an influx of state money to repair roads and infrastructure. Payne Subdivision is also about to get a huge grant of over $700,000 for a new sewer treatment plant—-again, something that never happened on the police jury watch. As for the condition of the roads, they haven’t gotten much worse in the last six years than they were after years of being neglected by the police jury.

The beginning of the end of road maintenance was when President Ronald Reagan ended revenue sharing, cutting out federal funds for rural roads. That, coupled with inadequate and infrequent road maintenance, all under the police jury, are also responsible for the bad roads. Parish residents have contributed to the poor condition of the roads by not voting for taxes to increase road maintenance funding. Some 20 odd taxes, that’s right, over 20 taxes, have failed in the last 30 years. Granted, there have been major mistakes made in the Parish Government but changing the form of government is not the answer.

The answer is ushering in more progressive, forward thinking representatives who will establish respect and confidence in parish government and increasing the tax base. And as for the television station report that Head Start has been dismantled, that’s just not true. While the Parish Council voted to not be the grantee, the program will be assumed by another agency with that announcement to come soon.

It will not be dismantled, it will just go to another agency to run it. What the critics don’t remember is that the police jury let the Head Start program accumulate a $300,000 deficit that occurred when program administrators gave raises. While the raises were within the Head Start grant funding, the benefits were not and the huge deficit occurred—-all under the police jury. It was not addressed for at least three years and the deficit was transferred to Parish Government with the transition to the new form of government.

That $300,000 could have bought a lot of gravel and paid a lot of grader operators. The deficit was diligently addressed and finally erased by Parish Government. Perhaps with Head Start under another agency, Parish Government will be able to focus more on road maintenance. Until a new revenue stream is found for road maintenance, the situation is not likely to change. No one wants to pay more taxes to get their road fixed yet they love to complain that no one fixes the roads.

And the days of the Federal or State government rescuing local government are long gone. Elected officials are reluctant to address rededicating existing taxes for other agencies in an effort to secure more funding for road maintenance.

And shut my mouth if you talk about a bond issue to address bad roads as suggested by a Parish Government road study a few years ago. The Home Rule Charter form of government may not address all the ills of the parish but returning to the police jury would a huge setback. Maybe that’s what some people really want.