Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Jury paves way for roads

Adoption of new roads into the parish system when Webster Parish Police Jury is looking to reduce expenses raised questions at Tuesday's meeting.

"We have been talking about our budget and having trouble ... if we're having trouble losing in our reserve and cutting employees are we really doing the right thing to keep taking on new roads? Should we have a moratorium for a while?" District 3 juror Daniel Thomas said.

Each year, every juror is allowed to add two roads into the parish system. Generally, this allows juror's to help their constituents who may have substandard access to their homes.

When new roads are added, they must be brought up to parish code and are added to the WPPJ maintenance schedule. An initial cost is incurred to bring the road to standard.

The request to add the Bistineau Crossing Road did not include the cost. According to Director of Public Works Teddy Holloway it "is going to take a lot of work."

Thomas said he was not against adding the road, but he expressed concern that requests to bring on new roads often did not include the cost of bringing the road up to standard.

District 8 juror Charles Odom echoed the concern.

"I think we need to know what it's going to cost before we just blanket accept (a new road)," he said. "I just can't vote to blanket do one, and all the sudden it cost $10,000, $20,000, $50,000. We don't know."

WPPJ president Charles Walker said all new requests should include the cost to bring the road into the parish system.

Thomas also raised the newly-adopted policy for roadwork in municipalities. The new policy provides $8,000 per year for smaller municipalities and $16,000 per year for Minden and Springhill.

Any work performed beyond those amounts must be paid for in full by the municipality, whereas previous practice only asked for them to pay for materials.

"We're going to take in new roads but yet we just got through telling the (municipalities) that we can't do really other than that little bit of money," he said.

Walker said that municipalities had their own taxes to pay for roadwork, but that rural people only have the jury.

Ultimately, Walker said he believed bringing new roads into the parish system was a non-issue because the budget shortfall had already been addressed.

"Until the time comes that this jury can say we don't have the money to do that anymore that's what we need to do, but right now I don't foresee that," Walker said.

"If it's fixed, it's fixed," he said. "I think we've settled the situation until January 2013."

Despite the discussion, the vote to add the new road was unanimous.






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