Coalition asks board to support proposed St. Landry library tax

The St. Landry Parish School Board agreed Thursday to consider a request from a group seeking support for a proposed parish-wide library system funded by a property tax.

Bruce Gaudin, representing the St. Landry Parish Library Coalition, told the board the coalition is trying to generate enough support to place a proposition on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters to approve a 5.5-mill annual property tax that would fund the proposed library system.

The board directed its Executive Committee to discuss the matter at a March 24 meeting and possibly make recommendations for the board to consider at the regular meeting in April.

Meanwhile, the St. Landry Parish Council next week is expected to decide whether to adopt an ordinance creating a parishwide library decision — a decision that needs to be made at that meeting in order to get the tax proposition on the November ballot.

However, when the Parish Council introduced the ordinance proposal last month, 10 of the 13 council members said they wouldn’t support it when it came up for a final vote.

On Thursday, Gaudin told the School Board he believes most of those reluctant Parish Council members will change their minds when the matter comes up next week.

Nevertheless, Gaudin noted that council members from the Eunice, Lawtell, Grand Prairie and Arnaudville areas still oppose the concept of a parish library.

School Board member Harry Fruge, whose election district includes Eunice, said there are individuals in that city who are opposed to paying a property tax for a parish-wide library system because the city pays $154,000 annually from its general fund to support a Eunice municipal library.

In other matters:

NORTHWEST HIGH: The board called for a state of emergency to replace the air conditioning system at Northwest High, in the Prairie Ronde community.

It could cost up to $200,000 to replace a pair of cooling towers for the air conditioning unit in addition to an estimated $13,000 for rented cooling towers while the permanent ones are torn down and replaced.

Board attorney Gerard Caswell said that by declaring an emergency, the district would not be bound by public bid laws for hiring contractors and purchasing equipment.

Caswell said the district could justify the emergency, since the school begins statewide ACT testing Tuesday.

James Poche, who represented Poche & Associates, which advises the district on maintenance matters, said the rented towers might be installed at Northwest High by the end of Monday’s school day in order to cool the building in time for testing. If they followed the state bidding process, Poche said, the project could take up to seven months to complete.

SCHOOL BUSES: The board delayed action on a request to purchase 25 school buses for the 2014-15 school year at a cost of $3.2 million, or renting the same number of buses for an estimated $9 million. The matter will be placed on the April agenda.