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|Calhoun continues fight against rec district funding|
For the second time in less than two months, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury bucked police juror Mack Calhoun's request to eliminate funding for a West Ouachita Recreation District study.
Calhoun sought to have the $4,000 appropriation the police jury recently approved for recreation district returned to the police jury's general fund. Calhoun advocated the move Monday during the police jury's regular meeting. Only juror Dorth Blade voted in favor of Calhoun's motion.
The recreation district, which includes part of Calhoun's district in western Ouachita Parish, is a political subdivision created by the police jury.
During budget hearings in December, the police jury agreed to allocate $4,000 to the recreation district to help pay for an update to its five-year-old study, which outlined the recreation district's goals and plans. It was during those hearings that Calhoun attempted to thwart funding for the recreation district in the police jury's 2009 fiscal year budget.
Calhoun believes the West Ouachita Recreation District eventually will ask voters to approve a tax to fund the recreation district. He has vowed to oppose any tax proposition for the recreation district.
"This would cost the people I represent a lot of taxes, and they cannot afford that," Calhoun said.
"If and when we do this, it will put some businesses out of business," Calhoun said of any tax that may be levied for the recreation district.
Calhoun said there are other recreational districts in Ouachita Parish, which were started successfully without the need for a tax.
"Several men put up money to build a recreation (complex), which is Biedenharn," Calhoun said. "It's well run, and it has not cost the Ouachita Parish people one penny."
Calhoun said he has talked with hundreds of people in his district about the proposed tax for the West Ouachita Recreation District. He said only one person has been in favor of it.
Calhoun has led several discussions about the proposed tax during recent police jury meetings. During Monday's meeting, he again voiced his displeasure with police jurors Walt Caldwell, Charles Jackson, Pat Moore and Shane Smiley for voting to maintain the police jury's $4,000 appropriation for the recreation district.
"I resent you four people - Jackson, Moore, Caldwell, Smiley - for pushing this down my throat," Calhoun said. "This is a new trend, and maybe this is how it's going to be, but I am very disappointed in you folks. You have the four votes. You will be able to put it (tax proposition) on there (ballot). But, I promise you, I am not going to accept this.
"It's not about the $4,000 … that's just a stepping stone to bring a hardship on the people I represent. People cannot afford this, and for us to do this … it's wrong, very wrong. If any of you four want to put it in your area, I'm all for it. District B (Calhoun's district) doesn't want it. I have three years and some months to defeat this, and I will. I promise you we will defeat this. The people of West Ouachita will defeat this."
The recreation district's master plan calls for developing 100 acres in western Ouachita Parish for a large recreation complex with an aquatic center, major basketball complex, soccer fields, tennis courts and baseball and softball fields.
West Ouachita Recreation District board members have said a new recreation complex would improve the quality of life for western Ouachita residents. The improved quality of life would help economic development efforts as well, according to the recreation district.