ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Council's July meeting is shaping up to be a doozy, based on action at its meeting Monday.
The council introduced an ordinance to call a special Dec. 8 election on the question of whether the parish's home-rule charter should be repealed, and Parish President Kevin Couhig proposed another set of tax proposals for a possible Dec. 8 election to fund a road and bridge repair program.
In a separate move, the council agreed to authorize the parish fire protection district's board of commissioners to call a Dec. 8 vote on a proposed new 4-mill property tax to fund additional full-time firefighter positions to improve response times in remote areas of the parish.
Councilman Melvin Young proposed the home-rule charter repeal vote, and council members said they had no choice but to introduce the election call ordinance for a July 9 decision.
They also said Monday's meeting was not the proper time for public comment on the suggestion, although the audience appeared to include people ready to talk. Instead, a public hearing will be held before the council holds a vote next month on Young's ordinance.
Voters approved the change from a police jury system of government to a home-rule system by a 53-47 percent margin in 2012.
Young said after the meeting that one of his reasons for proposing the charter repeal is that the council has no voice in how parish money is spent after it approves a budget the parish president's administration presents each year. As a result, parish roads are not getting the proper attention, he said.
Couhig went through a detailed explanation of steps being taken to address some of the parish's worst road and bridge problems, answering criticism voiced during a May 2 public meeting that he had not developed a plan despite proposing to switch sales tax revenues from the hospital to a road and bridge program.
The council did not call the Nov. 6 sales tax elections that Couhig had requested, but he said Monday he will be back July 9 with two options for funding bridge and road work.
One option will be to call an election Dec. 8 on his original idea to renew two half-cent sales taxes but switch the revenue streams to roads and bridges rather than the hospital. That proposal met stiff opposition from hospital employees and supporters, however.
The other option is calling elections on three tax proposals: a 6-mill property tax and renewing the two existing half-cent sales taxes. The propositions would require that the revenues be split equally between the hospital and the program for repairing roads and bridges.
If voters approve the three propositions, the hospital and parish road fund would each get about $2 million per year, Couhig said.
In other action, the council:
- Took initial steps to possibly abandon Rogillio Road at the request of landowner Carlyle Rogillio.
- Appointed Ralph B. Hennessy, former Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport aviation director, and Baton Rouge EMS official Thomas R. Loyacono to the board of commissioners of the parish fire protection district.