Last night’s meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) began calmly enough, with a solicitation from Monroe bond attorney Bill Boles, Jr., who asked that his firm be considered as counsel when the jury sold bonds to be financed by the prospective sales tax.
Said Boles, “We would like the opportunity to work with you on that tax. We are a local option, with all due all due respect to the folks in the New Orleans firm that has been doing that.”
A couple of the jurors promised that Boles’ firm would be considered.
The jury convened as a committee of the whole (East Ouachita Economic Development District) to consider the resolution calling for the tax hike election. Once the motion was made and seconded, things began to unravel.
District E’s Shane Smiley questioned whether sufficient support had been lined up to support the new tax.
Said Smiley, “I have to ask, we have a number of groups in the parish that have a lot of good leadership. But in a matter like this – something that is crucial – they were completely silent. And I’d really like to hear from the OBA (Ouachita Business Alliance) and other groups – I’d like for them to let me know that they’re going to step forward and really put their necks out and let folks know how important this tax is.”
Jury President Scotty Robinson (District A) said that future road construction on the west side might encourage support for the tax, but he had doubts about an April vote.
“My personal opinion, and I’m just one vote, I still thinks it’s a little early,” he said. “I think a few more months, then the fall elections – December would be better,” he added.
That’s when the roof fell in.
Pat Moore (District F): “We have two police jurors who are not here tonight. Would it be a problem if we tabled and give them an opportunity to have a voice?”
Jury Attorney Jay Mitchell noted that to meet the legal notice requirements for an April vote, a decision would have to be made immediately.
According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, the two available election dates for this fall are Saturday, October 14 and Saturday, November 18.
With that, the jury adjourned the committee meeting, reconvened the jury meeting, and took care of some other routine matters. They reconvened the committee and took the vote we reported last night – a 2-2 tie. Motions with tie votes fail.
Earlier in the meeting two road projects for the west side were discussed, and further work was authorized.
A $1.4 million bid for the rebuild of Slocum Road was approved, and authorization to bid a project for Caples Road was given. Estimated budget for that project is $1.75 million.
Also discussed was application for capital outlay money from the state to repair the outflow drain pipes of the River Styx Pump Station. That structure is located on Horseshoe Bend Road, just west of Ouachita Christian School. Water is pumped from River Styx into the Ouachita River.
However, local matching funds for that project might not be available if the planned tax is not passed.
Likely, we will be hearing a lot about this tax throughout the rest of the year.