Home » WPPJ approves ad valorem tax public meeting, allocates funds to Cullen Police Department

WPPJ approves ad valorem tax public meeting, allocates funds to Cullen Police Department

by Amber McDown

The Webster Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) held its regular meeting on June 5, with all members present and unanimous approval of all agenda items.

Routine matters included adopting minutes from previous meetings and designating the Minden Press-Herald as the Official Journal and the Springhill News and Press Journal as the Publication Journal for the next year. Additionally, the jury allocated $800 to the Cullen Police Department for the purchase of body cameras.

A significant agenda item was the approval to call a public meeting regarding an election to authorize the levy of an ad valorem tax to fund the Webster Parish Council on Aging (COA). The COA has been receiving an additional $90,000 annually for the past four years as part of a COVID relief plan, which concludes this year.

“The COVID money goes away this year,” said Johnny Johnson, executive director of the Council on Aging. “We go back to 2020-level funding. If that happens, my projections are a 40% cut in services. We have no choice because of inflation — the cost of food has gone crazy. There just aren’t any other options. We’re going to have to have new revenue or we’re going to have to cut services.” The COA requires approximately $800,000 annually to operate and hopes to use the tax revenue to close the budget gap and start a transportation service for seniors to medical appointments in Shreveport, which is currently the most requested service.

The public meeting will be held on July 2 at 10:30 AM at the Police Jury Meeting Room at 401 Main Street in Minden.

During committee reports, Melinda Davidson of the Webster Parish Office of Community Services noted an increase in landlords accepting Section 8 housing but mentioned the office still has more vouchers available than landlords. Davidson’s office is reallocating some funds to the crisis fund to assist more residents facing electricity cut-off notices.

Brian Williams of the Office of Emergency Preparedness reported that recent storms caused downed trees and powerlines but no structural damage. 911 Director Angie Chapman shared that of the over 3,000 calls received last month, most were fires or fire alarms. She also recounted a recent incident where a 911 operator coordinated with multiple agencies to resolve a moving domestic dispute, leading to a felony arrest with child endangerment charges.

Jessica Gorman of the Dorcheat Museum announced a $5,000 Culture Care grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities for general operating costs. She mentioned growing interest in cemetery preservation and recommended attending the 48 State Tour cemetery workshop in Natchitoches in July. Additionally, Mary Claire Kettler will speak at the next Night at the Museum on June 10, and Gorman is working on a new book featuring historical and current photographs of Minden.

The next meeting of the Webster Parish Police Jury is scheduled for July 2 at 10:30 AM, and the public is encouraged to attend.

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