1 cent sales tax levied on I-49 corridor to support sports park


By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

The City plans to levy a 1-cent sales tax on businesses along the Interstate corridor to be used for operation and maintenance of the sports park under construction on University Parkway. The tax will not apply to purchases in the City.

The tax will be levied in an economic district that includes gas stations, restaurants and any other businesses in that zone along I-49.

It does not require a public vote.

A State statute authorizes local entities to levy up to 2 cents in such an economic zone “with the proceeds being used for costs of acquiring, constructing, equipping, operating and maintaining recreational facilities in the City and for the promotion of recreation and sporting events in the City.” At the City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Lee Posey said the City will be “desperate” for revenue to operate and maintain the sports park since there is not enough reoccurring money in the recreation budget for that purpose.

Posey spoke to nearly every business owner in the corridor with the exception of three who are not based in Natchitoches. He said not all were on board but most were okay with it and a few were enthusiastic. The businesses will pass the tax on to customers, many of whom will use the park.

The City has tournaments scheduled for every weekend from January through mid-June in 2020. While the park has been financed through a bond issue, those funds do not cover the operation and maintenance that falls on the City.

Posey said people in the sports park business across the South told him that they built complexes then found out they couldn’t take care of them. He cited the need for equipment such as specialized mowers. He hopes the City can begin collecting the tax during the last quarter of this year. The tax was introduced at the council meeting Monday with the final vote scheduled June 24.

The rest of the meeting was spent approving the following resolutions that named appointments and set dates and times for meetings for this fiscal year:

•City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m., the second and fourth Mondays with a pre-meeting at 5 p.m.

•The Planning Commission will meet at 5 p.m., the first Tuesday of each month at the Natchitoches Arts Center; the Historic District Commission will meet at 5 p.m., the first Monday of each month at the Natchitoches Arts Center; and the Airport Advisory Commission will meet at 5 p.m., the third Monday except in December at the Natchitoches Regional Airport Terminal; and Waterworks District No. 1 will meet at 5:30 pm., the third Monday at City Bank at 145 St. Denis.

•Members of the planning commission are Charles Whitehead III, the Rev. Bobby Claiborne, Michael D. Lewis, Rickey McCalister, Jamie Flanagan, Isaac Lewis, Jacob Cooper and Ron Brown.

•Members of the Historic District Commission are Jared Dunahoe, Dr. Virginia Crossno, Sharon Gahagan, Dr. Steve Horton, Melissa Robinson and Marion Salter.

•Stacy McQueary is clerk of the council.

•Ronald E. Corkern Jr. is City attorney and assistants are Daniel T. Murchison Jr., Cloyd Benjamin Jr., Chris Guillet, Lisa V. Johnson and Steve Oxenhandler.

•Auditor is the firm of Johnson, Thomas and Cunningham CPAs.

•Sabine State Bank will be the City fiscal agent.

•Natchitoches Times will be the legal journal.

•HUB International Gulf South for One Beacon Insurance Group will provide casualty package insurance for a contract amount of $475,144.

The council also approved the following resolutions:

•Easement and right-of-way for utilities on property of Charles W. Waters; also on property of Martha Calk Waters

•Change order No. 1 for David Lawler Construction for $133,005 on East Natchitoches water main replacement Phase 1; total contract price $941,780