Juanice Gray | Editor
Entering into agreements with outside agencies is beneficial to the City. That was evident at the May 9 City Council meeting when an ordinance was passed to enter into an agricultural lease, an agreement with Cleco and a contract with Motorola Solutions.
First, The Finance Dept. recommended the agricultural lease for a 96 acre tract with Russell and Mary Edith of Stacy Farms. The family has farmed this property many years and has maintained a good relationship with the city. In addition, the lease saves city from having to maintain the large tract of land.
Cleco and the City entered into a three-year power supply agreement to begin June 1. Utility Director Matt Anderson said the set price is for power, “…but fuel costs fluctuate and are adjusted every month.”
The City will save money by contracting with Motorola Solutions for seven years to provide communications equipment. Police Chief Nikeo Collins said, “It needs to be locked in at these prices.” He stated the contract, which is a piggyback of a lease between Ascension Parish and Motorola Solutions, was, during the previous year, negotiated down from $544,000 to $328,000. Collins said the contract will allow updating systems that have been in place since 2003. “They are outdated….and there’s no room for growth.” He stated the system currently in place didn’t integrate seamlessly with Natcom (911 Center). “Information can be gathered more accurately from stops, and uploaded directly with immediate access. It’s all going to be for the benefit of the citizens.” It will take approximately 12 months to implement, however some services can be utilized now.
A first for the council was agreeing to a change order on a piece of equipment. Lone Star Truck Group got the bid for a 47-foot sheave height digger truck Sept. 27, 2021. The bid was for $234,502, then on April 19, the supplier issued a price surcharge update, increasing the cost $17,864 for a new total cost of $252,366. Anderson said the truck is used to set poles and hang transformers and is used daily. “We have an older truck we are retiring,” he said. “This will be the replacement.”
Purchasing Director Edd Lee said, “ If we don’t agree, they’ll cancel the order and we’ll have to start over. We’ve been in process since the truck was ordered in September. Still, it will be December before we can even get the truck.” Lee said the old truck is more than 15 years old and more than $30,000 was spent in maintaining it last year. “We could pay full price or more if we have to start over,” he said.
The millage rate, a total of 17.3 mils was adopted. Finance Director Clarissa Brown Smith said the City was not eligible to roll the taxes forward yet. She said that means the City can’t vote for any increase in property taxes until 2024. Assessments are done every 4 years.
The bid for caustic soda for water treatment was approved.
The council passed a resolution to enter into a one-year maintenance agreement with La. DOTD effective July 1. The City will be responsible for mowing and litter collection of state roadways within city limits. DOTD will pay $29,280 for the assistance.
Donald Forrest said, “It’s kind of hard with manpower and equipment (we have) to maintain it. We cut about 24 acres that we maintain. We’re having problems on the Interstate and the Hwy. 1 Bypass and Hwy. 6. That’s a lot of acreage to cut with one backwing. (This contract) will be a problem if we don’t get a second backwing going.” Brown Smith said she has been working on capital outlay for public works to get them what they need. There are 21 people in the public works department. Council members discussed the absence of and impact resulting from the lack of inmate crews to assist with litter abatement.
A Certificate of Substantial Completion will be issued for the latest phase of Parc Natchitoches. Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Warner said the park was “…very close to being turned over to us. They have to finish a few checklist items.” He said the three pavilions at the walking track have been open about a year. “One pavilion, playground equipment next to batting cage and other pieces of playground equipment…were part of this grant.”
Lee said the three pavilions were a part of this project as well, however, the jobs were split into two projects while remaining under one grant. It was noted the park is ADA compliant and some of the playground equipment is suitable for children with disabilities.
May 21 was recognized as Keys to the Park Day to promote youth health.
The next council meeting will be Monday, May 23.
Juanice Gray | Editor