OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council voted 9-1 on Wednesday to send to all parish municipalities a state attorney general’s opinion that indicates a sales tax collected in rural districts can be used only for road improvements in unincorporated areas.
A proposed intergovernmental agreement between parish government and Cankton to pave several roads inside the boundaries of the village was met several months ago with legal issue questions posed by some council members.
The council voted at that meeting to seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office about whether the 2-cent sales tax could be used on roads that pass inside Cankton.
At that meeting, Parish President Bill Fontenot said parish crews had for several years maintained the roads in question.
Council Attorney Chad Pitre said the opinion issued June 17 by Assistant Attorney General John C. Morris IV clearly states that revenues from the 2-cent tax can be used only for projects outside the city limits of any parish municipality.
According to Morris’ opinion, the tax is dedicated specifically for “constructing, improving roads, bridges and related drainage in the (road taxing) District.”
Attorney general opinions are just that — opinions. They do not hold the weight of a legal judgment.
Fontenot said it is still his opinion that roads in the proposed agreement always have been parish roads.
Councilman Gary Courville cast the only “no” vote on the issue.
Courville, whose district is primarily inside Eunice city limits, said voters in Eunice “don’t want to be told what to do.”
Only 10 of the council members voted on the matter.
Dexter Brown and Timothy LeJeune were absent. Chairman Leon Robinson did not vote, according to council rules.
In a Finance Committee matter, the council voted unanimously to obtain a list of all equipment sold by the St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter.
The council did not discuss the issue, but in a committee report, Fontenot said he will provide the information.
The council also approved Fontenot’s proposal to spend $52,000 for a geographic information system that can be accessed on the Internet for economic information in St. Landry.
Fontenot said in the committee report that he feels the system will pay for itself, because the system will list all properties for sale by parish government and all the main tourist attractions as well as hotels and motels, he said.
Complaints about parishwide garbage collection were aired by a resident who lives on McMillan Road, west of Lawtell.
Mathilda Durousseau said Progressive Waste Solutions, which has a contract to collect garbage in both the rural and incorporated areas of St. Landry, has not picked up her garbage in four weeks.
Durousseau said she has received no response from Progressive employees when she has telephoned them about the lack of service.
“I really thought about bringing the trash here (to the council meeting) with a trailer and dumping it here,” Durousseau said.
The council appoints four of the members of the parishwide Solid Waste Commission, which pays Progressive to provide garbage collection services.
Councilwoman Pam Gautreau suggested Durousseau contact Katry Martin, Solid Waste Commission executive director, to discuss the service problem.
The council took no action on the matter.