Downtown bill set to go before committee Thursday

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The bill regarding changes in the law for the downtown development district and Main Street Board of Commissioners is expected to go before the House committee Thursday.

Bill author state Rep. Gene Reynolds says the bill will clarify who commission members can be and who is in charge of the downtown development director.

“The mayor will be here to testify with me on Thursday,” Reynolds said. “The bill takes an old bill and it clarifies the membership and who’s in charge.”

Mayor Tommy Davis says when the Louisiana Attorney General rendered an opinion on who has the right to hire and fire, a discrepancy in the law was discovered.

“We’re a city that operates under a legislative charter, so in order to change our charter, the legislature has to do it,” Davis explained. “What happened is when we started reviewing this, because we had a question about who has the right to hire and fire, then it came up about our commission.

“When you look at the old rules of our commission, none of those rules were being (followed),” he continued. “We didn’t have anybody really on our commission that met the requirements. So we didn’t have a duly constitutional commission.”

In March, the city council unanimously agreed to adopt a resolution “supporting state legislation which would amend R.S. 33:2740.24 with respect to the Downtown Development District Commission and powers and to otherwise provide with respect thereto, as presented with modified changes as discussed…” according to city council minutes.

According to the new bill, in order for commission members to qualify, they must either be a registered voter of the City of Minden or hold a majority interest in a business or property located in the Downtown Development District.

“The seven members shall be appointed by the mayor of the city of Minden, upon the approval of the city council ‘with due consideration being given to the needs and desires of the commission,’” the amended legislation reads. “’The commission shall appoint sub-committees for various needs and events with no limitations on residency. In addition, the mayor of the city of Minden and the project director shall be nonvoting ex officio members of the commission.

“One of those rules, for instance, was that the commissioner was going to be nominated by the Downtown Business District,” Davis said. “Well, there’s not a Downtown Merchants Association anymore. We’re just changing the qualifications and how the commissioners are appointed.”

The old rules dictated that members where chosen as follows:

Two members shall be appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Minden Chamber of Commerce.

Two members shall be appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Retail Merchants Association of the city of Minden.

Two members shall be appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Minden Historic District Commission.

One member shall be appointed from a list of nominees submitted by the Minden NAACP.

The Downtown Development District begins where Dennis Street intersects with Highway 80 and ends around Pennsylvania Avenue with properties in between.

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