City actions prompt savings for taxpayers

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City taxpayers will get another break because of proposed action of the City Council at the meeting Monday. The City will refinance revenue bonds, of not more than $12 million paying for Parc Natchitoches for a projected savings of $300,000. Bond attorney Michael Busada told the council it was in a unique position to refinance the bonds of which the outstanding amount is $10,460,000. Busada jokingly said Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr., could be recognized for the most savings in the first year by a new mayor because of other savings realized from refinancing City utility bonds.

This article published in the Thursday, April 15, 2021, print edition

The City will participate in historic restoration through a proposed ordinance to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the Natchitoches Historic Foundation (NHF) for improvements to the Roque House on the riverbank. The NHF plans to move the Roque House out of the flood zone, turn the entrance toward the river, build a promenade, storage facility and restrooms. The City will pay $750 per month to the NHF for use of the Roque House. Williams said that fee could be recouped from the fee paid for one wedding on the riverbank.

Another proposed ordinance calls for the City to contract with Merchant Mcintyre & Associates, grant writing consultants. The ordinance calls for the City to pay $7,500 per month for three months with an option to renew the contract for one year. Williams said the Washington, D.C., firm are experts in securing federal grants and can secure from six to eight times more than the annual investment. He said checks by staff found the firm to have excellent references. He learned about the firm from Natchitoches Regional Medical Center CEO Kirk Soileau.

The council introduced an ordinance to grant a license to Canterra Networks to provide a faster broadband optic system. City Attorney Alex Washington said the agreement is not exclusive and other companies can apply for licenses.

Another ordinance proposing that the City grant a franchise to Cane River Paddle & Sports LLC will be considered at the May meeting because it is to be amended. The council introduced the ordinance for the budget for 2021-22. The proposed general fund will be $17.9 million; utility fund $35.8 million; and capital projects $15.3 million. Finance director Debbie Miley said the new budget is 8.8 percent less than the current year’s budget. It includes a 2 percent cost of living increase and $500 incentive for employees given in November. The City will conduct a budget hearing May 10 and Williams said his office will issue a “citizen’s budget document” soon.

The final proposed ordinance deals with accepting a grant for $557,775 to DSW Construction from the La. Land and Conservation Fund. The company will build restrooms and install playground equipment at Parc Natchitoches. The proposed ordinances will be voted on at the April 26 meeting.

The council voted on four ordinances that were previously proposed. They included: •Entering a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City, Red River Waterway Commission and Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau to promote the KingKat Fishing Tournament on Red River

•Entering employment contract with special counsel related to seeking damages from opioid manufacturers and distributors

•Changing error in zoning classification from B-2 to B-3 for property owned by Braxton Keyser LLC The council adopted a resolution accepting a change order from Regional Construction for Phase 3 Street Rehabilitation. The next scheduled council meeting will be Monday, April 26.