As planned, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) last night passed both Ordinance 9001 and 9002, which are the legal mechanisms that set the tax rates that property owners pay for ad valorem (according to value) taxes. Both ordinances were properly introduced at the 9/4/12 meeting, and public hearings were held for input, as is required.
However, when time to vote came, another ordinance 9002 was put on the table that differed from the one introduced and upon which a public hearing was held.
See here the original ordinance 9002 (pg 6-13).
See here ordinance 9002 that was passed.
The changes involved levies for several road lighting districts which had balances in their accounts and were not scheduled to have any money levied against them this year. That was changed to a $5 assessment in the substitute ordinance.
To be sure, the changes were small, but the fact remains that the ordinance that was introduced and upon which the public hearing was held was NOT what was voted for and adopted, unanimously. That sort of stuff doesn’t look good in a public body that has the power to seize citizen’s property in the form of tax money. If this document can be changed or substitutions made, then ANYTHING can be changed or altered. It amounts to an ability to take property by decree, without public input of any sort.
On hand were his family and a large contingent of parishioners from Monroe’s First Missionary Baptist Church, where Mansfield pastored for a number of years.
More Money Matters
During the visitor’s session of the meeting, Tana Trichel, President of Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance (NELEA) asked the jury for an additional $15 thousand in financial support from the jury. Trichel also reported upon recent activities of her agency.
The agency has received about $3 thousand/year for the past several budget cycles, so if her request were granted, it would amount to a sixfold increase to her agency.
District F’s Pat Moore suggested that Trichel put her request in writing and submit it.
Next up, the Town of Sterlington’s lobbyist – former State Representative Charles McDonald – spoke on behalf of the town’s request for a renewal of a public works sales tax agreement with the jury. The present agreement allocates proceeds from a one-cent sales tax (about $200 thousand/year) that is collected by the jury within the town limits in exchange for street and drainage maintenance responsibility by the town.
The new agreement passed by the jury last night will cut that allocation to a 50/50 split between the jury and Sterlington. That agreement is for three years, and will begin in 2013.
When representatives of the Ouachita Parish Health Unit appeared they were questioned about a doubling of the line item for contract personnel.
See here the budget documents.
Finance Committee Chair Walt Caldwell (District C) suggested that they trim about $35 thousand from their request and resubmit. That amount would balance revenues and expenditures, Caldwell said.