Public wary of road promises

By Jim Butler

jimenews@bellsouth.net

Before it can build roads, the St. Landry Parish Council will have to build bridges, between each other and to an evidently skeptical public.

Thursday night, the council heard from a number of citizens at a special meeting call for the sole purpose of discussing how to get a unitary road program on the road.

There was no obviously most-favored plan, but there was unanimous caution about whether the council could deliver what it promises.

The alleged failure of police jurors past to make good on similar pledges sticks in the memory of many.

Some speakers advocated a user fee of one kind or another.

Others suggested an additional sales tax; some thought an addition to the vehicle registration fee or inspection fee a possibility.

A couple conceded a property tax might be the answer; most didn’t like the idea.

That’s where Parish President Don Menard wants to go.

He’s proposing a 10-mill, 10-year consolidated property tax that would finance bonds to get roads repaired as soon as possible, and would put roads under one umbrella rather than under the various districts they now fall under..

At this point, he doesn’t have the council votes, and Eunice member Gary Courville is working to assure he doesn’t get them.

“My people don’t want a property tax, and won’t vote for it,” he said.

Courville advocates a one cent sales tax in the unincorporated parts of the parish, and a surcharge on speeding tickets.

The tax would yield about $21 million over 12 years and the surcharge would produce about $1.5 million annually, based on the current 50,000 tickets.

Jimmie Edwards, also a Eunice-area member, said he leans toward a combination of road user fees and license plate fees to generate the road funding.

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