NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury on Tuesday extended an olive branch to the city of New Roads by unanimously approving a new agreement outlining management of the William H. Scott Civic Center.
The jury’s action came after Mayor Robert Myer sent a letter in mid-June to the Police Jury threatening 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.
“I really would like to see us move forward tonight,” jury President Melanie Bueche said during the meeting as the jury’s attorney, Dannie Garrett, presented parish leaders with a proposed intergovernmental agreement. “I think we have dragged this out long enough.”
The new agreement would reinstate the Civic Center Commission — a five-member board of city and parish officials to oversee managing the day-to-day operations of the facility.
The joint commission — with two members from the Police Jury and two City Council members with Myer serving as chairman — had dissolved in May 2014 when the parish pulled out of its old agreement with the city after mounting tensions between the city and the parish.
Since that time, officials bickered back and forth over money-related issues related to the civic center.
The city chided the parish for not paying its $50,000 annual contribution to the commission’s coffers and a portion of the facility’s insurance payment since it backed out of the previous agreement.
Parish officials were irritated over the city’s refusal to pay half of the $6,000 fee it would take to have someone appraise the Civic Center and an adjoining park property.
The idea for the appraisal had stemmed from a proposal to have the city take over the Civic Center, and the parish take over the adjacent park.
“It baffles me why the relationship has deteriorated between the Police Jury and the city,” Juror Justin Cox said. “Why can’t we sit down with one another and talk?”
Juror Albert Dukes added, “We need to go ahead and pay whatever money we need to pay because money is needed to run that facility.”
According to the agreement the Police Jury adopted Tuesday, both sides will recommit to allocating $50,000 to the commission through monthly payments of $4,166 per month.
At the request of the city, Garrett said, the new agreement will be retroactive to January 2015, which means both parties will have to fork over approximately $24,000 after the agreement is signed.
The new agreement also stipulates the commission will need an affirmative vote of 4-1 on all major decisions like the adoption of an annual budget, any expenditures more than $10,000, hiring contract employees and entering into contracts exceeding 30 days.
Parish officials have complained in the past that the city’s three votes wielded too much power in the city’s favor.
“Because its such a small committee, requiring four votes means you have to develop a consensus between the parties,” Garrett explained.
Garrett said the new agreement will be on a month-by-month basis, giving both sides an out should they decide to split the property after the appraisal is done.
New Roads City Councilman Anthony Daisy, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said the city is open to smoothing things out. “We can’t solve anything if we don’t come together and meet.”
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