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Parish Council: Deal or No Deal?

The St. Landry Parish School Board may have gotten its final offer from the Parish Council for the lease of property for a Head Start Center adjacent to the parish airport.
The monthly rental price has ranged from $5 a month to $1,125 a month since October, the month after the school system took control of the Head Start program in St. Landry Parish.
The School Board has about $6.8 million in federal money to operate the 11 Head Start centers in the parish.
The deal may close at $500 a month at the Feb. 20 Parish Council meeting.
Parish Council member Harold Taylor said, “I can’t imagine that $6,000 a year is going to be a bump on that budget. I mean give us a break. Now, listen we do a lot of stuff for you.”
Taylor made his comments at the Feb. 6 Parish Council Finance Committee meeting where Superintendent Patrick Jenkins made a bid for the $5 a month rent on the three-acre site.
“This was not budgeted,” Jenkins said. “Every dollar is allocated.”
Taylor said, “We’ve got to get a grip on this. We’ve got lots of things to do. Can we agree to what we’ve already agreed on? Five-hundred bucks and call it,” he said.
But Taylor added that if that is going to hurt the Head Start budget, it may be possible to charge $5 a month until the next budget year.
The $5 a month fee goes back to the 1990s, but it has been found the fee has not been paid. Non-payment terminates the lease the agreement.
The current agreement is through 2023, Jenkins said.
The Head Start payment has gone back and forth with the School Board at one point offering $350 a month.
Council member Timmy Lejeune pointed out the Council’s attorney and the School Board’s attorney reached an agreement for $500 a month following an initial $1,125 a month charge approved by the Council
Garrett Duplechain, Parish Council attorney, agreed with Lejeune. “I think the Council and both attorneys approved $500 a month.”
Donne Perron was one of several School Board members attending the committee meeting, but was the only one to speak.
“We need to work together. Why treat us differently?” he said.
“When we get Head Sart it goes up to $1,100. It is kind of hard to understand,” he said.
Jerry Red, Council chairman, said, “If your attorney drew up the contract and then we signed off, it is because you and your attorney ... spoke on your behalf to agree to $500.”
“We can’t stay here six months or a year playing around trying to negotiate a price. We have a price on the table,” he said. “Whatever the price it is let’s come up with a compromise...” he said.
“What is a fair price to you? Probably $60. I think that this Council would be fair if we go $500,” he said noting that is down from the $1,125 a month.
Wayne Ardoin, committee chairman, said, “We try to get along with everybody.”
But he added, “We cannot give it away, but let’s try to negotiate a price.”
The $500 a month rent was forwarded to the full Council with “Yes” votes from committee members Lejeune and Ardoin and a “No” vote by Dexter Brown. Nancy Carriere and Ken Marks abstained from the vote.
“Let’s get this matter over with,” Ardoin said after the vote.

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