A large crowd was assembled Wednesday morning at Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace as all three River Parish Presidents sat together to speak to the River Region Chamber of Commerce as part of a Parish President’s Forum.
St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran, St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom and St. James Parish President Timothy Roussel each took turns answering selected questions about the present and future of their respective parishes.
Given the state’s recent efforts to buckle down financially and create a solution for its debt crisis, an obvious point of interest at the forum was how each parish president planned to combat the loss of potential revenue sources.
With the potential of Louisiana abolishing the state inventory tax, Cochran was asked what his plan would be to make up for that lost stream of income.
“It is always our priority as a parish government to be more efficient with our funds,” Cochran said. “If the inventory tax was abolished, we would have to raise some of our millages dedicated to the parish’s debt from our current outstanding bonds. Then we would have to meet with both our taxpayers and taxing entities (sheriff’s office, school board, the hospital) to look at what the best plan to fill the void created by the elimination of the revenue.”
He also spoke about the need to address transportation issues.
“We are working with DOTD to make improvements to some our major artery roads – Ormond Boulevard, Airline Hwy., Highway 90 and of course the Hale Boggs Bridge,” he said. “We are in support of increasing public transit options and possibly exploring a fixed route public transit system with RPTA.”
When asked what the biggest impediment was to attracting new industry into the parish, Cochran noted that lack of available land is an issue, stemming from the industrial boom St. Charles Parish experienced beginning in the 1960s.
“St. Charles Parish in the 60s and 70s experienced the industrial boom that is now occurring in our neighboring parishes,” Cochran said. “Our biggest impediment is that we simply don’t have the dry land zoned for these industries to go.”
Robottom also extended a thank you to Cochran and St. Charles Parish, as well as all others who lent assistance to St. John after that parish suffered wide-spread damage after two tornadoes touched down there in February.
“I’m very fortunate to have neighbors like Larry (and others) … all of the parishes who extended help to us immediately. St. Charles has just left as of last week.
Every chance I get, I want to thank you, because we have some resources but we clearly did not have the capacity or resources to deal with what happened to us.