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|Police jury creates new road lighting districts|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury officially created three new road lighting districts Monday during its regular meeting.
New road lighting districts were established for the West Oaks subdivision, Travelers Rest subdivision and Frenchmen's Bend subdivision.
For months the police jury for months asked neighborhoods interested in establishing new road lighting districts to contact parish officials. The police jury set a mid-May deadline to take up petitions for new road lighting districts.
Voters will decide Oct. 17 on whether to establish new road lighting districts in their neighborhoods.
Voters in Ouachita Parish's existing road lighting districts also will be asked Oct. 17 to approve a change in the method they utilize to pay for road lighting service.
The reason behind the proposed change is due to problems with collections in some districts in the parish. The proposed changes in billing would take care of those issues, parish attorney Jay Mitchell said.
Currently, fees are collected by the police jury, which sends bills to residents living in the road lighting districts. Any unpaid accounts must be resolved through the state district court system.
If voters approve the changes, road lighting fees will be placed on the property owner's tax bill, which is collected by the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office.
If a property owner does not pay his or her property taxes, the property could be seized by the sheriff and sold at auction.
One concern among residents who want road lighting service is cost.
The cost will vary depending on several factors, including the number of lights, the number of taxpayers in the district and whether the electrical utilities are overhead or buried.
In general, for a lighting district with overhead utilities, the cost per taxpayer would be roughly $35 annually. For buried utilities, the cost would be around $70 per year.
If a neighborhood cannot present information about establishing a road lighting district to the police jury by mid-May, Mitchell said a neighborhood could possibly vote on new road lighting districts during another election, probably in spring 2010.
For more information about road lighting districts, contact Karen Cupit at the police jury at 327-1340.