City of Natchitoches could alleviate some of Powhatan’s financial woes

849

The Village of Powhatan is on the list of “financially distressed municipalities” compiled by the La. Legislative Auditor’s Office, but a La. Community Development Block Grant should help remove part of the reasons the village was put on the list. The designation lists that the village has significant problems with its water system. Those problems could be helped with a $2 million grant to the City of Natchitoches that will pay for the sale and delivery of potable water to Powhatan residents.

The project will be bid and will include engineering and construction of waterlines from Natchitoches to Powhatan that will be approximately 7 miles long. The project cannot begin until the village signs the water agreement with the City. At the March 22 Natchitoches City Council meeting, the council adopted an ordinance that allows the City to provide a potable water supply to Powhatan for five years. The City will own and operate the meter installations that will be located at the north end of the new waterline near Bayou Pierre as well as the booster stations.

In the Thursday, April 1, 2021, print edition

The village will be responsible for the booster stations, repairs, utilities and chemical expenses. The ordinance states that the City will have the right to close the connecting valve should it adversely affect the operation or integrity of the City’s water system. The City will acquire easements for the water line along La. Hwy. 1 North along the La. DOTD right-of-way. The City will maintain ownership of the improvements but the village will be responsible for maintenance and operation of the improvements other than the metering facilities.

The grant comes from the Federal Government’s La. Cares Act of 2020 that gave $1.8 billion to Louisiana. Gov. John Bel Edwards allocated $810 million for local government projects. Relief Funds will be allocated by parish using a weighted average calculation based on 30 percent for total population of the parish and 70 percent for confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the parish.

The percentage allocation may change based upon new cases occurring and diminishing as the virus spreads through the state and, hopefully, slows as time progresses according to the La. Division of Administration website. The LCDBG programs are administered by the La. Division of Administration. The water problems are only part of the reason why the village was placed on the list. The village shows signs of financial stress as indicated by minimal fund balances.

The fund balance for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018, was $568. Water/sewer expenses were $138,387 and charges for services were $72,456 or a loss of $65,931. The 2019 and 2020 audits have not been completed which limits access to the town’s finances. For the year ended June 30, 2017, the village did not submit the annual audit within six months after the close of the fiscal year.

The information cited was under the previous mayor and council.