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Grants pass without opposition at special council meeting

The Minden City Council held a special meeting Monday afternoon in order to pass motions pertaining to grants that would fund infrastructure development in Minden for water and the Minden Airport. There were three items on the agenda and all of them passed without opposition after some discussion.

The first item on the agenda was for a Community Water Enrichment Fund Application. “This is for replacing deteriorating water mains and replacing substandard distribution lines in order to water supply and quality,” said Mayor Terry Gardner. 

State Representative Wayne McMahen was present in order to answer some questions about the grant as well as explain that his office asked for an extension for the city to approve the item since it was not done so at the December Council Meeting, and the deadline was Dec. 6.

“That money will be coming back to my district. For those that have got the approvals in, I’ll be able to pick where that money goes and try to put it in the places of the biggest need. The money is going to come back, but the thing that’s going to happen if you don’t put your approval in is you’re not going to be in the group that comes back with projects that are designated to be funded,” said Wayne McMahen.

“But you also said you couldn’t guarantee anything,” said Councilman Vincen Bradford.

“No, I can’t guarantee, but I can guarantee if you don’t approve it today, you’re not going to get anything. I think there is a possibility if we approve it today, if you approve the letters of support, that you might get some funding out of it,” responded McMahen.

“But you can assure us that if we do not act on this then our chances of getting money in 2020 are diminished greatly?” asked Councilman Pam Bloxom.

The CWEF and the LGAP are,” responded McMahen. 

After McMahen had answered the council’s questions, Councilman Herbert Taylor called forward Eric Lee to clarify some more information about the grants. “What he was explaining to me was that this project has already been approved in our budget for $175,000, and the grant is to recoup some of the monies that we’re spending on that, right? asked Herbert Taylor. “That is correct,” responded Lee.

Shortly after the council voted on the item and approved it without opposition. They also approved the next item as well, which was a similar grant that would help to fund the replacement of some water lines in the city. 

The last item on the agenda was that for a grant that would be used for funding projects at the Minden Airport. The grant is a 10% DOTD match grant which would account for approximately $14,000 in funding for the airport. It matches the 90% FAA grant that was approved by the Council back in July. The Director of the Airport Steven Burdeaux was present to explain the importance of a local airport, even if not every individual citizen uses it, as well as some information on what the grant is used for and the process that they go through to get them.

Burdeaux explained that the projects that the airports do are planned years in advance by the airport itself, FAA, and the DOTD as a way to collaborate on how much funding the airport will need ahead of time. “Once we budget for the projects, we receive invoices from contractors. The city pays the contractors, then we turn around and request that that money to be reimbursed from the FAA or DOTD. So these grants are reimbursement grants. So it’s not something you go apply for, get the money, then do the project. It’s, you do the project, then you get the money back,” explained Burdeaux.

Burdeaux also explained that the large majority of taxpayers wouldn’t be fronting the bill for this grant, given that the funding comes from fees and taxes that are strictly on aviation-related goods and services. “Anything that uses aviation, will pay a fee to aviation which goes into the federal and state aviation trust fund which are constitutionally protected funds and can only be used for airports. So that’s what funds all of these projects, it’s not income taxes, it’s not local taxes, it’s actual aviation related funds,” said Burdeaux. 

He also took the time to explain what exactly the Minden airport provides to the local community that most people wouldn’t be aware of. He stated that without a local airport, “We wouldn’t have a Walmart. We wouldn’t have a Stage. We wouldn’t have a Tractor Supply. Any of those national or international corporations wouldn’t be based here,” said Burdeaux,

There are also Pilots for Patients and Angle Flights who donate their time, aircrafts, and fuel to fly patients to their doctor’s appointments. Louisiana Department of Agriculture and forestry have an aircraft based at our airport. They fly around and look for forest fires during fire season. All of those things wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have an airport.”

Last but not least, Burdeaux stated that if the grant isn’t passed, instead of the DOTD paying the $14,000, the city of Minden would be paying the bill. “If the resolution isn’t passed, we can’t request reimbursement from the state, so that 10%, or that $14,121, will actually come out of the City Budget,” said Burdeaux. After the discussion, the Council voted without opposition to approve the grant.