If there was one consensus that resulted from the June 14th regularly scheduled meeting of the Jackson Parish Police Jury it was that if you want a big crowd, just promise to talk about taking some money or services away. That was about the only thing agreed upon during the session that took place at the Charles H. Garrett Community Center as Jurors and the public alike expresses a wide variety of opinions in regard to what to do to help alleviate the funding deficit of the Solid Waste Department.
One of the largest crowds in recent memory was in attendance with several taking the podium to address the panel of Todd Culpepper, Lewis Chatham, John McCarty, President Amy Magee, Tarneshala “Niki” Cowans, Regina Rowe and Lynn Treadway.
First up was Sarah Dark who said that after attending the Library Board meeting she felt that the Library may be more accommodating in helping with funds for the Solid Waste Department if a plan was in place that they could review and that such a plan needed to be immediately implemented. Dark then asked how the people of Jackson Parish could have a chance to vote on reallocating library funds. She also stated that the Police Jury should take into consideration labor involved and wear and tear on equipment and charge businesses and municipalities more than the $27.03 per ton that had been proposed.
Gayle Hobson followed by reiterating that the people should be allowed to vote on the reallocation of library funds and that businesses and out of parish users of the landfill should be required to pay but not the local taxpayers. Hobson also showed the Jury a flyer she had received that offered to have a private company pick up trash but stated that she didn’t want to have to go that route. Concluding she thanked the panel for listening to the concerns of the people. Linda Devine closed the public comments portion of the meeting by stating that the Jury should look at more avenues of funding the Solid Waste Department other than just the Library. She cited that other entities like the Council on Aging has a large surplus of money as well and asked that a solution to this problem be looked into earnestly so a decision could come quickly.
When the time came for the Jury to discuss what would be required to have a possible election to allow the Police Jury to allocate surplus funds from the Library, District One representative stated that he was against having an election at all.
“I am not in favor of calling for an election and If it comes to a vote I will vote against it,” said Culpepper. “I look at it as the Solid Waste Departments money shortage is a problem for the Police Jury to solve. It is not the Library’s problem or anyone else’s and it is up to us to fix it. We need to leave these other entities alone. What has taken place is not their fault.”
“I believe that through working together we can find a solution that will be fair for everyone involved,” continued Culpepper. “We now have American Recovery Act (ARA) money that previously wasn’t in consideration. By trimming some here and there from within we should be able to fix this.
In regard to the ARA funds, President Magee informed the crowd that the Parish had received 1.5 million dollars but that a 137 page guideline on how the money could be used was in accompaniment.
“We are looking at exactly where we can use this money and the expected additional $1.5 million we are expecting to receive, said Magee. “Hopefully we will have some leeway so that we can use some of this on Solid Waste. We are researching every possibility there is in order to get this fixed.”
In additional action the Jury voted to go along with Governor Jon Bel Edwards recommendation to declare June 19th as “Juneteenth Day” which would be a state holiday that will go into effect immediately. The $27.03 per ton charge to municipalities to dump their trash was instituted as well. This will go into effect on August 1st, 2021