WALKER – Issues from drainage to litter need to be addressed, but finding the fund to do it will challenge the next Parish Council according to two candidates for the District 2 seat.
Incumbent Garry “Frog” Talbert and Kyle “Hoot” Parker took part in the Chamber of Commerce’s Parish Council Candidate Forum on Monday at Wholly Grounds Coffeehouse in Walker.
“It was the feeling of certain council members to try to fund individual (drainage) districts themselves,” Talbert said. “It was thrown on the ballot in fall of 2017 and it was defeated.
“It will take a public uprising from Livingston Parish (residents),” to push for parishwide drainage and funding it, Talbert said.
“I was one of the 7 percent that did not flood,” Parker said.
The parish has the workers for day-to-day drainage work, but he questioned what the parish would do in an emergency.
Why this job
“People don’t know what they don’t know,” Talbert said. “I ran four years ago to bring some calming effect to this parish.
“I brought leadership and different skills to move the council to be more efficient. It’s a tough job.
“I am running for this seat to continue the work the council has done,” and continue the recover from the 2016 flood, he said.
Parker cited his service with sewer districts in Livingston Parish and having root here.
“It’s not new to me. I served this parish in districts 2 and 3 for 27 years,” Parker said. “My wife was an educator for 30 years.
The parish has an ordinance on animal control, Talbert said, but at the bottom it says it won’t be enforced “until it is funded.”
“The council not the generator of revenue,” he said.
The parish president has to determine animal control is a priority and fund it, he said.
A pet is a responsibility, not a toy, according to Parker.
Shelters should be helped, whether its food or programs to find homes for animals.
“As the population grows, this problem will grow with it,” he said.
Local organizations need to be encouraged to pick up trash, like a group does in Watson, Parker said.
“We can’t point a finger at law enforcement or councilmen. We need to stand up and do what we need to do,” he said.
“We have laws to address litter, Talbert said, but he added there is a need to educate the public.
Drainage is the No. 1 issue Talbert says he hears from residents of his district.
“We’ve addressed some issues,” on subdivisions and water retention, he said.
“The next council will address serious problems,” Talbert said.
Parker said more attention needs to be paid to permits issued to contractors.
“Make sure if you have an ordinance that requires a permit that the permit office goes and physically is looking at the site, he said.
Parker said in balancing residential and development issues, “The situation we’re in, I think you need to look at it on a case by case basis.”
The parish has a lot of subdivisions and rural property, Talbert said, but “It’s got to be the people in the (council) district to decide.”
The original Master Plan called for letting each district decide, he said.
“There is a lack of resources,” Talbert said, pointing out that the Department of Public works is funded only by a three-quarters of a cent tax.
“I’m not saying we’re undertaxed,” he added, but the council needs to look at how allocates revenue.
People need to see a tangible return on taxes. You have to have the public trust,” before asking for more revenue, Talbert said.
Parker said people have said whenever they request help they hear there are no funds.
“We need to work on budgeting and use funds more wisely,” he said.