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|Police jury lobbyist tells jurors to revisit funding requests|
Former legislator Willie Crain thinks the Ouachita Parish Police Jury should review its current capital outlay requests and possibly reevaluate its priority list.
Crain, who serves as the police jury's lobbyist to the Legislature, suggested that jurors reprioritize its current capital outlay requests.
Crain spoke before the police jury Monday during its regular meeting. He told the police jury how it could restructure its requests and improve its chances of receiving state funding.
The proposed fourth Ouachita River bridge is currently the top capital outlay request for the police jury's 2008-09 fiscal year.
According to Crain, Sen. Mike Walsworth expects the Ouachita Expressway Authority to be the entity to apply for funding for any work related to the bridge project.
Since the bridge commission was not established in time to apply for funding for the current fiscal year, the parish took the responsibility of making that capital outlay request.
"I'd hate to see that be your No. 1 priority and end up with the commission duplicating the same thing you're doing, and you're giving up a top slot (on the priority list)," Crain told jurors. "You're lucky if you can get three of these, and you're really lucky if you can get four."
"After the fourth (request) it's not all that important other than for you having an idea of when your projects will be funded," Crain continued. "I don't suggest that you shorten the list, but what we'll really be selling is the first four or five on that list.
"Some years you may not get but one project, or two, so you need to look at the timing … if it's something you can't make happen this year, even though it's a high priority, I wouldn't put it in the first three slots."
Parish engineer Don Harrison, who helped create the parish's priority list, believes the list is too long.
"The prior jury was reluctant to remove anything from the list, but in reality, I agree we need to pare it down to really the top half a dozen projects in the parish and make sure the priorities reflect the wishes of the police jury," Harrison said.
The current priority list has remained the same for the past four years.
Capital outlay request that have the best chance of receiving funding are those that spur economic development, Crain said.
One of the police jury's current requests is $4 million for land acquisition for an industrial park in southern Ouachita Parish.
That is one of the types of requests lawmakers will approve readily, Crain said.
The Legislature's next regular session begins in March.
In the meantime, the police jury asked Crain to meet with local legislators to get their input on what projects they deem are most important for Ouachita Parish.