NEW ROADS — The city of New Roads and the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury may be headed to court again — this time over the operation of the William H. Scott Civic Center.
New Roads Mayor Robert Myer sent a letter in mid-June to the Police Jury in which he threatened to take the parish to court to recoup $8,500 he says the parish owes in insurance payments on the Civic Center and to ask a judge to order the parish to pay half of the center’s annual operating costs.
Myer said he wants the court to give the city full control of the facility’s day-to-day operation after years of a tug of war with the parish over how to run the center, which is jointly owned by the two entities.
Myer said he won’t file suit if the Police Jury on Tuesday adopts a new cooperative endeavor agreement, which outlines how the two sides will fund and manage the community center.
“We cannot continue to operate this public entity without a legitimate agreement,” Myer said. “We were both supposed to be paying money for the upkeep, but they decided to stop paying what their portion is.”
“If New Roads is funding it more than the parish, it’s not fair,” the mayor added.
City Councilman Kirk “Clipper” White, who was asked recently by the mayor to make a last-ditch effort to negotiate the matter with parish officials, says the city would like to continue managing the facility, given the positive changes that have taken place over the past two years.
“We got in there, cleaned it up and painted it,” he said. “Now we have bookings there more than a year in advance. We turned it around.”
Police Jury President Melanie Bueche said she is hopeful things will work themselves out and not require court involvement.
The Police Jury is set to discuss the matter at its meeting Tuesday.
“There is resolve coming,” she said. “We could probably throw stuff back at them, but I’m going to try and stay on the high road.”
In a June 16 letter to New Roads City Council members, Myer laid out the city’s disagreement with the parish, pointing out that after years of management by the Police Jury, New Roads entered into an intergovernmental agreement in 2012 with the parish and formed a joint commission to manage the facility.
The Civic Center Commission was composed of two members from the Police Jury and two City Council members, with Myer serving as chairman.
The agreement stipulated the city would have primary control of the commission, but both New Roads and the parish would contribute $50,000 annually toward the facility’s operating costs.
The parish used some of its revenue from its recreational tax to cover the costs of the Civic Center, Myer’s letter states.
Things started turning sour in May 2014, when the parish pulled out of the agreement.
Police Juror Janet Vosburg, who served on the commission, would not say last week why the parish pulled out of the agreement. Parish officials have previously said the Police Jury felt the city had too much power on the five-member board.
“I’m a peacemaker. I really don’t like to go backwards or discuss too many of the issues,” Vosburg said. “I know the commission was formed in good faith. The Police Jury members tried really hard to get it to work.”
Myer’s letter says that in June 2014, the city had to foot a majority of a $17,000 insurance bill when the parish refused to split the cost equally.
The mayor said the city had to pay half the bill and used money left in the commission’s budget to pay the parish’s portion.
An insurance payment of $18,000 is now due again.
The Police Jury is claiming the city owes the parish $6,742 in outstanding bills for trash service at the Civic Center.
An April 13 letter from the parish administrator to Myer says the city also still owes the parish for half of the $6,000 fee it will take to have the Civic Center and an adjoining park property appraised.
The city and the parish have said they wanted to have the property appraised after they reached an impasse over the Civic Center. The proposal was to have the city take over the Civic Center, and the parish would take over the adjacent park.
The mayor said he will not pay the city’s portion of the appraisal fee until a new intergovernmental agreement is adopted.
Bueche has compared the ordeal to a bad marriage on the fringes of divorce.
“If the husband and wife don’t talk to each other, there’s no way you can have a successful marriage,” she said. “We need to resolve this.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.