Livingston council backs away from Juban Crossing vote

After a lengthy public hearing and some confusion over parliamentary procedure, the Livingston Parish Council on Thursday did not vote on adopting an ordinance that would increase the parish’s sales tax contribution to the oft-delayed Juban Crossing project.

At the end of the public hearing on the measure, Councilman Ricky Goff, a vocal supporter of the development, moved to vote on the ordinance.

But no one seconded his motion, effectively killing the measure.

Right after Goff’s motion died, Councilwoman Sonya Collins made a motion to table the measure until the council’s Aug. 8 meeting, which Councilwoman Cindy Wale seconded. Councilwoman Joan Landry also tried to offer a second to Goff’s original motion.

But Council Chairman Marshall Harris rendered those moves moot, saying parliamentary procedure prevented the council from voting on the measure Thursday after Goff’s motion went nowhere.

Harris, a supporter of the ordinance, said after the meeting that he will reintroduce the item at a later date. It will then be given another public hearing before the council can vote on it again.

“I believe we had an opportunity here to change our parish’s face for a long time, and we just blew it,” Harris said.

In June 2007, the council approved using 40 percent of the revenue from its three-fourth-cent road sales tax collected within the mixed-use development, located north of Interstate 12 between Denham Springs and Walker, for road work in the development district.

The proposed ordinance would have routed 100 percent of the proceeds of the three-fourths-cent tax to borrow money for road work in the district.

The ordinance also sets up a cooperative endeavor agreement among the parish, the Juban Crossing Community Development District, the parish’s Drainage District No. 1 and the parish Economic Development District for the roadway work and improvement.

The proposal comes after Gov. Bobby Jindal in June vetoed legislation that would have diverted state tax dollars for the Juban Crossing development.

Plans for Juban Crossing include stores, restaurants, a theater and about 500 homes.

The public hearing on the matter Thursday took about an hour and half. It was peppered with residents raising questions on both sides of the issue, along with council members questioning the parish’s financial advisers at length on the specifics of the financing.

Councilman Chance Parent spoke starkly in opposition of the ordinance, saying the parish won’t have enough money to maintain all of its roads if the measure passes.

Goff said he supported the measure because it funds a development that will keep the parish’s sales tax revenue “on this side of that Amite River bridge” and will keep jobs in Livingston.