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Tax for Council on Aging (COA)

by Minden Press-Herald

The Webster Parish Police Jury is scheduled to deal, on July 2, with the customary threat when a government bureaucracy is called upon to live within its income. That is, “If we don’t get a tax increase, we will have to cut services.”

The COA got $90,000 per year of Covid relief funding for 3 or 4 years.  

Covid relief was peddled as a nationwide cushion to ease the possible loss of revenue caused by governments’ shorted-sighted and punitive restrictions on commercial activity. One question that should be asked is, “What happened to the $90,000 per year Covid supplement that COA got? Was the COA mission expanded so that now it demands a tax raise to fund the expanded activity?” In its current request for more taxpayer money, sure enough, the organization admits that if more tax-funding is approved, they will expand their mission to include daily transportation to Shreveport medical appointments. Any such expansion of mission will probably cost more than a million dollars, requiring two or more very expensive buses that meet all the government mandates on medical transportation.  These -super-duper vehicles will have to be replaced every five years or so.

Some years back, I saw numerous public transit buses cruising the streets and roads of Webster and other parishes. Each could haul 25 or more passengers, but no bus was carrying more than 3 or 4. I started asking questions such as, “How many public transit buses does the parish own?” The first response was, “I don’t know. This doesn’t cost us anything. The federal government pays for it.” Soon, I posed the same question to the Jury’s office staff. They said that was under Community Action and gave me the name and phone number of its director. I phoned that person and asked the same question. The immediate reply was, “Why do you want to know?” 

I was shocked to hear such a belligerent response, but I said, “Well, I’m a citizen and I have a right to know.” I was quickly told that the busing was under a contract with Medicaid (or Medicare) to provide on-call medical transportation (Four or five of the buses were daily parked behind the Springhill Medical clinic.)  After more grilling by the community “service” leader as to my motives and need to know the number of buses and their cost, the administrator said, ” It’s all handled under the Louisiana Department of Transportation. We don’t have anything to do with the rules, the number of buses or of buying them.” Finally, I asked, “Can you give me a name and phone number of someone at DOTD so I can ask them about the program?” The answer was an emphatic, “You can look it up!” SLAM! The phone went dead.

Gerald Holland

P S: Prior to the above, my sister was employed by the services agency to deliver daily lunches to senior citizens in a small town in Webster Parish. There was no demand for the number of lunches being sent to the delivery point. My sister reported this fact to the director, who said, “Whatever you do, don’t send them back. Throw them away if you have to. If we report that they aren’t being used, they will cut our budget.” Such an attitude and practice are in the seed of the unsustainable 31 trillion-dollar federal government debt. 

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