Parish seeks St. Landry-only inspection fee increase

By Jim Butler

jimenews@bellsouth

To borrow a line, some think the parish will need a bigger boat.

Others point out it has probably missed the boat.

Nevertheless, the St. Landry Parish Council on Monday night decided to endorse a plan to double vehicle inspection sticker fees to generate funding for road improvements.

The $10 increase would provide about $1.1 million annually which could serve as the revenue base for a bond issue.

Parish President Don Menard says the sticker increase alone would not be enough.

In addition to a concern that municipalities might want a cut of the additional sticker fee, Menard thinks a larger revenue base would insure the parish could do what it says it will do -- fix roads unanimously acclaimed as horrible.

Meanwhile, Sen. Don Cravins, Jr. notes it is too late for this session to introduce the necessary enabling legislation giving the council the option.

More to the point, any legislation introduced now has to have a statewide application, not a local one, to get consideration from a Legislature already faced with about 1,700 bills in the hopper.

Cravins informally advised the council of that through its attorney last week.

Eunice council member Gary Courville said Tuesday he still thinks the proper course would have been to hold a public hearing before considering the measure.

“People will think we’re shoving this down their throat,” he said. Courville noted the parish tried a license plate fee increase back in the 1990s but gave that up in the face of what he called overwhelming opposition.

Courville said municipalities, such as Eunice, will want a share of any fee increase, “and rightfully so”, and that that has to be considered.

He said other fund-raising options haven’t been eliminated, though attention is now on the inspection fee proposal.

One alternative would be to secure a bond issue with revenue from allowing use of the parish landfill by Lafayette Parish.

That proposal is under consideration by the Solid Waste Commission.

Another is Courville’s proposal to add to the cost of speeding tickets in the parish.

In the end the council Monday night voted 9-3 to enlist Cravins’ help in sponsoring a bill this session.

Courville and Dist. 3 member Fekisha Miller and Dist. 1 member Jerry Red., Jr. voted no.

Speaking of the vote, an relatively rare change in voting procedure occurred.

Council votes have to this point begun with District 1 and concluded with District 13, Courville’s district.

They now will begin with whichever member has the monthly privilege of leading the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the meeting.

That designation rotates monthly, beginning at District 1 and going consecutively to District 13.

Now District 13 will not always be last to vote, nor will District 1 be always first.

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