Council may re-vote on ‘condo’ ordinance at Dec. 3rd meeting

Published 3:52 am Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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An ordinance to build condos in the city of Bogalusa will likely come up for a vote again at the Bogalusa City Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

During Monday’s rescheduled council meeting, Bogalusa Fiscal Administrator Joey Richard introduced the ordinance.

The text on the meeting’s agenda read as: “Introduction of an ordinance to issue a special use permit to American Dream Homes of Washington Parish, LLC, for construction of condominiums allowing three to six multi-family units per lot of property located at West 16th Street and Avenue I and H, specifically Block 28, Lots 1-40, and to provide for related matters (introduced by Fiscal Administrator Richard).”

The special-use permit request was initially rejected by a 4-3 vote at the Oct. 15 city council meeting.

However, during Monday’s meeting, Richard stated that he was re-introducing it because he believes that the tax revenue from the project would be beneficial to the city’s financial well-being.

Richard said that the project would bring in $30,000 a year for the next 15 years, in addition to any property taxes assessed on the individual condo-owners, revenues from permit fees, and sales taxes generated from the construction.

District Judge William J. “Rusty” Knight appointed Richard as the fiscal administrator for the city of Bogalusa, during a hearing held in late May.

A fiscal administrator replaces locally elected officials in times of financial trouble. Administrators have the power to raise fees, cut services, lay off employees and perform other actions in order to keep municipalities’ budgets in line.

During Monday’s meeting, the council initially voted to table the introduction of the ordinance, but later reversed that action. Richard noted that it will be up for a public hearing and vote at the Dec. 3 meeting, and any citizen will be free to speak on the issue at that time.

The council could also make a motion to table the ordinance at that Dec. 3 meeting, but the question arose Monday on whether it would even matter since the fiscal administrator’s authority could trump the council.

According to the Fiscal Administrator Law (Revised Statutes 39:1352, Section 4): “Upon the appointment of a fiscal administrator, the officers, officials, and employees of the political subdivision shall serve in an advisory capacity to the fiscal administrator. The fiscal administrator shall allow the officers, officials, and employees to serve their constituents and fulfill their duties by providing advice to the fiscal administrator on matters relating to the operation of the political subdivision. If a conflict arises, the fiscal administrator’s decision shall prevail.”

Richard noted that he believes construction projects like the condo development would be a better way to fix the city’s finances, rather than making additional cuts on the expenses side of the budget. Such expense cuts could include city employee layoffs and elimination or reduction of services.

“My goal is to get you to the best place that I can get you, with the least amount of pain to the least amount of people,” he said.

In other business, the council:

  • Introduced an ordinance to approve the 2019 Revised Budget. This ordinance will be up for public hearing and a vote at the Dec. 3 meeting.
  • Adopted, by a 7-0 vote, an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Willis Construction Company for the George R. Carr Memorial Airport Runway 18 Obstruction Removal Part 2 State Project No. H.009382 for the City of Bogalusa.
  • Heard from Vice President Danielle Keys, who noted that the first meeting of the new Cemetery Board will be held at Bogalusa City Hall on Thursday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m.

The next meeting of the Bogalusa City Council will be held Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall, located at 214 Arkansas St.