Letter: Webster Parish is dying, we must wake up

It is Tuesday evening, April 4, 2017, as I sit and read the Minden Press-Herald. What jumps out at you is the number of articles dealing with the crises of tax revenue shortfall. To name a few in today’s paper: The City of Minden is struggling to have adequate revenues to pay for maintaining a safe number of police officers on our streets. The Minden Police Department is seven officers short. The Webster Parish School Board votes to leave teacher pay frozen for the 7th year in a row. The Webster Parish Police Jury has a revenue shortfall. The South Webster Industrial Park sits unfunded for the future development as the last tax funds the park’s development failed to pass.

The northern half of Webster Parish (Ward 2) road tax renewal failed. The State of Louisiana is experiencing a huge budget deficit. The state is struggling with a 13 billion dollar shortfall in its highway maintenance system. In Webster Parish our sales tax and property tax revenues continue to shrink. Would it be fair to say that we the people of Webster Parish are losing, or have lost, our vision for the future? If so, yesterday’s mindset and our way of doing business for the past 30 or 40 years is not getting the job done.

Somebody created jobs for your fathers, your mothers, your grandparents, your relatives. International Paper, and to a larger extent, the major oil
companies that have drilled our land. The U.S. Government who set in our midst the “Shell Plant” which employed so many for so many years. The fathers and mothers who worked there raising their families expanded the economy with trade and paying taxed into our local communities.

Private enterprise takes it upon themselves to bear the cost, shoulder the risk, to create business and, therefore, jobs. Bear in mind, it cannot be ignored; it is “for profit”, but the benefits, the jobs, the careers that were created in our communities. Haughton, Bossier City, Minden, Doyline, Dixie Inn, Cotton Valley, Springhill and the neighborhoods and small communities that tie Webster and Bossier Parishes together were created.

Yes, the one who originates, the entrepreneur if they are successful, is rewarded financially, they reap the rewards and pride in their accomplishments, and they bear the risks and the cost.

But, are not parishes, cities, small towns, police forces, school boards, police juries and other public service entities rewarded as well? The small businesses and the large businesses feed the ever-important tax base of where we live. Do not lose sight of the reward – jobs, a future, better schools and infrastructure, an expanded tax base and many, many other benefits. These benefits can be yours. These benefits can be ours.

The contained burn chamber that we are advocating to remain at Camp Minden can pump untold millions of dollars into this area’s economy in the form of 100 new, good paying jobs and a big boost in our tax base. To not support or to ignore this business opportunity for our area is a mistake. Webster Parish is dying. Wake up, folks.

James D. Madden.
A resident of Webster Parish for 79 years.

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