Concordia Parish will once again have a railroad line traveling through it…eventually.

Police Jury members passed an ordinance for the creation and participation in the Northeast Louisiana Railroad Development District in their May 23 meeting.

The district’s primary purpose, according to the ordinance, is “to promote and encourage development of rail service running between the parishes of East Carroll, Madison, Tensas and Concordia, to stimulate the economy among the parishes through renewed commerce and industry, and for the utilization and development of natural and human resources by providing job opportunities in and among the parishes.”

“Any infrastructure that we can bring in to further industry and to create a large tax base I think is better for the parish and better for jobs,” said Bryant Killen in a February Police Jury meeting. Killen is manager for Lake Providence, Vidalia and Tensas Port Commissions.

The ordinance allows the District to form a Board of Commissioners who would have the power to acquire land, enter into contracts, incur debt, issue bonds, levy taxes and appoint officers.

They would also be able to fix their compensation, borrow money and “all other powers authorized by law,” according to the ordinance.

The District would have the power to put a proposed tax up to five mills on a ballot, but only a referendum of the people could pass a tax.

“The main reason to develop “the District” is to create a tax base,” Killen previously said. 

Money from a proposed tax could possibly go toward building a railway through the four parishes at an estimated cost of $1 million per mile. The length of the railway would be 75 miles and strictly be commercial.

According to Killen, another avenue for funds for railway construction is Federal grants and Louisiana’s $3 billion surplus.

After the railway is built,  the District would own the district and sublease it to an operator, according to Killen.

Meanwhile, Police Jury members agreed to roll forward 2022-2023 tax millages.

General alimony was 2.25 mills and is now 2.27 mills; drainage was 9.9 mills and is now 10 mills; health unit was 8.410 mills and is now 8.5 mills; and Council on Aging was 3.96 mills and is now 4.0 mills.

Estimated amount of tax revenues collected next year from the increased millages are: general alimony tax: $354,209.87 an estimated increase of $3,120.65; drainage: $1,560,395.90 an estimated increase of $15,603.33; health unit: $282,431.66 an estimated increase of $3,120.68; and Council on Aging: $624,158.36 an estimated increase of $6,241.33.

Concordia Parish Library stayed at 8.410 mills.

“Each year you have to adopt a millage rate,” said acting Tax Assessor Jeanne Archer “And that millage is what revenues comes in. You have an opportunity to roll forward before the next assessment. Some of (your millages) were not at the highest amount, so if you don’t want to lose them you roll forward. What that means is you roll forward to the higher millage rate to collect a little additional funds.”

The next reassessment is 2024.

“They could call a reassessment at any time,” Archer said. “You don’t risk losing it, you can go ahead an adopt it. That doesn’t mean you have to levy that amount in the future, but you have it, and you don’t lose it in the future.”

In other action, Police Jury members entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Lake St. John Water Works to allocate $150,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the purpose of funding water, sewer and storm water infrastructure projects selected by the Water Sector Commission.

“They are to be commended,” said Sandi Burley, Police Jury secretary / treasurer. “They are the smallest entity we allocated funds for but they have turned it into the largest amount with a $1 million water project.”

Lake St. John Water Works has accumulated $1.2 million to make upgrades to their system, according to Burley.

“That is amazing,” she said. “That’s what I wanted to see more of.”

Additionally, Police Jury members adopted Perch Hole Road and Red Oak Lane into the parish road system. Both roads are gravel.

Police Jury members agreed to replace two culverts at Ferriday Lower Elementary, spray fences lines at Ferriday High School and Vidalia High School and approved a request from Concordia Recreation District #1 to spray a fence line at Montgomery Square.

In additional action, Police Jury members approved liquor licenses to R&J’s Food Management dba Duck’s Nest II, Panola Woods Country Club and Illusions LLC.

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