By Paige Nash
Webster Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) discussed their proposed budget for the upcoming year, including increasing the amount of interest money the municipalities receive from the parish.
Juror for District 3 Daniel Thomas suggested doubling the amount that the 11 municipalities currently receive from the jury. There are 9 smaller municipalities including Sibley, Heflin, Doyline, Dubberly, Sarepta, Cotton Valley, Cullen, Shongaloo and Dixie Inn with Minden and Springhill being the remaining two and larger cities within the parish.
The smaller towns and villages have previously received municipal funds in the amount of $8,000. The amount suggested by Thomas would increase this amount to $16,000, making the amount the same as Springhill and Minden currently receive – $16,000. That amount for those two would increase to $32,000.
“Several of us have been talking about ways to try to get some more money into the municipalities,” said Thomas. “A lot of them were hit the hardest on the sale of the landfill and several of us jurors thought this is a good way. We were wanting to basically double what each municipality is receiving now.”
Thomas explained that his reasoning for this was due to the smaller municipalities now having to pay more for garbage disposal since the landfill sale.
Police Juror for District 1 Bruce Blanton agreed.
“It seems very fair. The people in Springhill, while they do drive on the parish roads, there are more of them in the city limits that pay for these taxes. This would be a way to thank them,” he said.
However, WPPJ Vice-President and Juror for District 11 Steve Ramsey did not agree.
“You are taking money away from our parish roads. Everybody knows what kind of shape our parish roads are in. I just can’t see us doing that,” he said.
WPPJ President Jim Bonsall was in agreement with Ramsey. According to Bonsall, the municipalities pay less to the police jury versus the residents who reside outside of city limits.
“I have heard people say that people in the municipalities pay so much taxes that they don’t get anything for,” said Bonsall. “People in municipalities get a lot from us. All the stuff we do for criminal court, and we pay the sheriffs. I just want you all to understand that $8,000 we give Sarepta or Heflin, that’s not all that the municipalities receive from the parish.”
Steve Lemmons, Juror for District 7 suggested the jury give the same amount of increase to all 11 of the municipalities including Springhill and Minden.
He said, “I think small municipalities need it more than Springhill and Minden. I think if you’re going to do it, you should do one amount across the board. I think if you want to raise it to $8,000, then raise it to $8,000 across the board. I’m telling you that Dubberly will use every bit of it on roads. Every year, we do a piece of road.”
Adam Lee, Juror for District 12, and Mike Griffith, Juror for District 5, agreed with this recommendation to distribute the same amount of increase to all municipalities.
Thomas, who made the original motion to double the amounts, adjusted his motion to reflect the jury give $8,000 across the board with the smaller municipalities now receiving $16,000 and Minden and Springhill now receiving $24,000.
“We just don’t get this kind of money that we aren’t already using very often,” said Thomas. “This is new funds to the parish, and I thought it was a good time. We work hard all over the parish and try to spend every dime the best we can spend it.”
Another proposed budget amendment was made by the Webster Parish The jury also voted to move $2,500 previously used in funding for Trailblazers to the Dorcheat Museum on an annual basis.
A public hearing for the proposed budget will be held on December 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Webster Parish Police Jury Courthouse Annex, 401 Main Street in Minden.