City Council has several decisions to make May 23


Juanice Gray | Editor
At the May 23 city council meeting, they will vote on ordinances and resolutions introduced May 9.
First is a zoning classification change for property on Jefferson Street. The property has three individual rental spaces, with two of those permanent. The owners want to take the third space and make it into a vacation rental.
There is an ordinance to amend the budget to ensure the City remains within a 5% variance between projected and actual balances. Finance Director Clarissa Brown Smith said the amendment will “…make sure revenue you projected is on track. We have several that need to be moved just to right size everything. You want to use 5% as your benchmark. Over 5% would put up a red flag.”
Council members will consider authorizing the mayor to execute a third water tower lease agreement with New Singular Wireless to include a 4×10 foot area for a generator. Utility Director Matt Anderson said, “I think this is a good deal for the city. We lease space on our water tower to cell phone companies for antennas. They approached us wanting to add a space for a generator. This will (result in an) increase in lease revenue from that.”
The City could enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) with the Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance (NEDA) with a $40,000 investment. Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said at the May 9 meeting the concept is to get all economic development players on the same page to grow the tax base by aligning resources and tools. He mentioned the City, NSU, parish, chamber, port, Convention and Visitors Bureau and other stakeholders will also contribute. The MOA will be for one year beginning this month. “My hope is that more people come on board and the city won’t have as big a financial burden,” he said. “I especially like number three. That’s an area where we can do better.” Williams was referring to, under the terms of the agreement, NEDA would lead the evaluation and development of business and industrial sites. The terms also call for maintaining an updated website, designating NEDA as the lead contact for economic development, serving as the local liaison for business retention and expansion and providing expertise, experience and leadership for special projects.
The Chamber of Commerce, and president Laura Lyles, is initiating the alliance, with Lyles taking on additional responsibilities within NEDA.
The investments from the participating entities will go to NEDA, a 501C-3 not for profit organization, and each partner will have financial responsibility. Williams said the endeavor will “be merging the chamber with economic development. It is a tier level and yes, Laura will have a large role with NEDA.”
“Private citizens need to have a voice,” said councilperson-at-large Betty Sawyer Smith. “It is critical that everybody is working together.”
Finally the hot topic of redistricting reared its head. The city has a population of 18,038 according to the census, which reflects the numbers used to draw district maps for representation. Councilman Chris Petite read the resolution stating 4,510 people per district is ideal. Williams said there will be additional meetings on the issue. “This is just to say lets go ahead and get started on the adjustment process.”