Annual salary supplements approved for city employees

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By Carolyn Roy, Carolyn@natchitochestimes.com, 318-352-3618 ext 219

City employees will get their annual salary supplements thanks to the City Council that approved the onetime payment at the council meeting Monday. Full-time employees receive $500 and regular part-time employees get $250. The supplements are intended to be future compensation for the remainder of the fiscal year for those who were employed for the 12 months before Nov. 1. It will be prorated based on length of service for those not employed for a year. The supplements are paid for by a surplus in the worker’s compensation fund.

The council voted 4-1 to lease an airport hangar to Marc Millican for 10 years at an annual cost of $2,178. Eddie Harrington was the only dissenting vote with Dale Nielsen, Rose Elie, Chris Petite and Betty Sawyer-Smith voting for it. The lease was somewhat controversial because former City Attorney Ronald Corkern has described Millican as not being a good neighbor at the airport.

Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. and Sawyer-Smith advocated for Millican with Williams saying that while there had been some concerns, the City could terminate the lease if there were problems. He said the hangar could not be used as living quarters. Nielsen said there was talk of reducing the term of the least to five years and noted that the airport commission members were 100 percent opposed to approving the lease. Harrington was concerned that the lease did not have a hold harmless clause to protect the City.

City Attorney Alex Washington said that the ordinance would have to be amended if the hold harmless clause were added and advertised again on Nov. 9, 19 and 26 with final vote to come Dec. 14. Williams said that a shorter lease was discussed but in a meeting with Millican, Airport Manager Larry Cooper and Airport Director Edd Lee, Cooper and Lee said a 10-year lease was fine.

Williams said he would trust Cooper and Lee saying there was no problem if the terms of the lease were adhered to. Sawyer-Smith then made the motion to vote on the 10-year lease “tonight” and add a hold harmless clause. Washington then said the council could authorize Williams to add the hold harmless clause before the contract was signed, without advertising it again.

In other business, the council passed a resolution authorizing the City to apply to the La. Bond Commission to refinance three utility bonds. Nnamdi Thompson, a municipal advisor for Government Consultants Inc., explained the process to refinance the bonds if the bond commission agrees at its December meeting. Two of the utility revenue bonds were sold in 2009 and a third was sold in 2015.

Thompson said if the bond commission agrees, he can lock in a new rate in January that will shorten the repayment. He will receive a fee only if the transition closes. He is requesting the refinancing at this time because of low interest rates.

Final votes on planning and zoning agenda items included:

•Approved rezoning of Parkway Cinema to allow sell of beer and wine

•Approved rezoning of Hwy. 1 South Bypass property of Claire W. Decker for purpose of sale

•Approved rezoning of 105 Isadore so Elizabeth Grace Sylvia can sell sports drinks

•Approved rezoning of Sav-A-Lot grocery to sell low alcohol content beverages The council approved an ordinance that will allow the City to enter agreement with La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fishers to stock the pond at Parc Natchitoches with bass and trout.

The council introduced the following ordinances that will be voted on at the next meeting:

•Authorize the Mayor to advertise for liquid chlorine for water treatment plant

•Approve employment contract with City Attorney Alex Washington for legal services at hourly rate of $150; City will pay for out-of-pocket disbursements such as filing fees, witness fees, travel, sheriff’s and marshal’s fee, expenses of depositions, investigative and other incidental expenses; term of contract will be through July 31, 2021

The next scheduled City Council meeting will be Nov. 9.

City offices will close Nov. 11 to observe Veterans Day.