The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday (2/1/16), 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor.
Here is the agenda.
It was as routine a Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) meeting as we have ever covered last night. Routine resolutions were passed, and there was but one visitor who told the jury of road and culvert issues in his neighborhood, which the Public Works Department promised to correct in February, weather permitting.
However, it seems the jury is proud owner of a residential property on Raymond Drive.
The property was acquired twelve years ago when the jury bought up some right-of-way, in anticipation of Phase III of the Fink’s Hideaway Road project. Of course, with the ownership of a house comes all the responsibilities of renting – upkeep, rent collections, etc.
Upon hearing all this discussion, new District B juror Jack Clampit asked, “Let me understand why we’re in the rental business on this house?”
It was explained that once a governing body buys right-of-way, it made sense to hold on to it until the project is completed.
Said Walt Caldwell (District C), “It’s right-of-way preservation. You don’t want to get rid of right-of-way once you acquire it.”
All the jurors lamented that the project’s completion might be many years in the future.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) last night voted unanimously to create two new tax districts as vehicles to levy increases in sales taxes for drainage and road construction. The East Ouachita and West Ouachita Economic Development Districts are divided by the Ouachita river, and encompass all of Ouachita Parish, except the Cities of Monroe and West Monroe, and the towns of Sterlington and Richwood.
The East District sales tax increase, if approved by voters, would be $0.0139, and would collect about $2.8 million/year. The West District increase would be $0.0039, and would take about $1.8 million/year from the people.
The resulting sales tax rates would then be at a statutorily maximum of $0.0999.
Finance Committee Chair Walt Caldwell (District C) said that new taxes would allow the parish to do much more in large road and drainage construction projects.
Said Caldwell, “These funds would be used only in large capital projects; they’re not going to be used for pothole patching.”
See here a slideshow on the plan.
A vote on the proposed taxes will be set for Spring, 2016.
In other business, the jury adopted amended 2015 and proposed 2016 budgets.
For 2015, total revenues came in at $84.5 million, with expenditures of $83.8 million. For 2016 proposed revenues are $75.5 million, and expenditures of $81.1 million.
The jury also award an across the board cost of living raise of 2% to employees.
By Zach Parker
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury took the first step Monday toward calling an election asking voters in unincorporated Ouachita Parish to approve a pair of sales tax hikes to generate revenues for road repairs.
The Police Jury voted to create an economic development district in western Ouachita Parish and another in eastern Ouachita Parish. At a later date, the Police Jury plans to call for an election raising the sales tax rate in western Ouachita by .39 percent and by 1.49 percent in eastern Ouachita. The two sales tax increases would bring the total sales tax rate to 9.99 percent, which is in line with the rate in Monroe and West Monroe.
Development of property north of Interstate 20, just east of Garrett Road and south of Millhaven Road, has hit a snag over drainage issues.
I-20 Corridor Properties, owner of the land, has sued the Interstate 20 Economic Development Corporation (I20 Board), claiming that construction of a road connecting Millhaven and Fontana Road has aggravated flooding issues on his land.
The plaintiff requests that road construction be halted until a trial decides the issue. From the petition:
Plaintiff further alleges that a part of the terms and obligations of the aforesaid Agreement between the parties which in part provided for Plaintiff to donate extremely valuable property (estimated to be worth approximately six (6) million dollars) to the Defendant for the road that Defendant and the City of Monroe, Louisiana wanted and desperately needed for further economic development for the area, that there was an understanding between the parties that the road construction on Plaintiffs property north of Interstate 20 would be such that Defendant would construct the road in question at its cost, estimated to be under three (3) million dollars, and that the Defendant would make sure that, the road, even in its finished form would serve to drain Plaintiffs property properly and would not cause Plaintiffs property to flood; moreover, had it been understood by Plaintiff that the Defendant never plam1ed to do what was necessary to make sure that Plaintiffs property would drain properly before or after development of same, Plaintiff would never had agreed to donate the property for the constructions of the roads, especially since the cost of the road over the property located on the north side of Interstate 20, was about one-half of the value of the property donated by Plaintiff.
See here the complete lawsuit.
At last night’s meeting, of the I20 Board, the issue was discussed in an hour long executive session.
Afterwards, I20 Board President Otis Chisley said that the suit was “unfortunate,” but not unexpected. He said there were discussions about hiring legal counsel to handle the matter, but no final decision had been made as to who that may be.
I-20 Corridor Properties lists as managers Joseph and Nouri (Eddie) Hakim, well known area property developers.
Eddie Hakim several years ago was the Government’s chief witness in a trial that resulted in the conviction of two Monroe City Councilmen for raketeering, Robert “Red” Stevens, and Arthur Gilmore.