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|Police jury opposes state roads transfer|
The Franklin Parish Police Jury passed a resolution opposing a plan to transfer miles of state roads to the parish during Thursday night's regular meeting.
The road transfer, proposed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, could shift the burden of maintaining about 5,000 miles of roadway to parish and local governments throughout the state.
Juror Jackie Johnson, who authored the resolution opposing the state plan, said Franklin Parish is having trouble fixing current roads and doesn't want the parish to face a situation where it might have to assume responsibility for more roadways.
"I suggest we oppose receiving any additional roads," Johnson said. "We still have miles of gravel roads that we haven't been able to pave and shouldn't take on any more roads."
The plan, currently being vetted by a House-Senate transportation subcommittee in an effort to decentralize state government, proposes an additional $60 million annually for parishes, phased over five years for road upkeep.
Jurors, however, are concerned the state, which is facing a $2 billion spending deficit over the next two years, might not be able to meet its proposed obligation.
Six members of the seven panel jury approved the resolution, with juror Leroy Scott abstaining.
"I'm going to have to abstain, because I don't know yet what this will mean for the parish," Scott said.
The DOTD reports the state owns 16,668 miles of road in Louisiana, which is partly paid for by a one-cent dedication of Louisiana's 20-cent gasoline tax.
It is uncertain how many miles of roadway would be transferred to Franklin Parish if the plan becomes law.
State Sen, Neil Riser, R-Columbia, is worried money for road upkeep might be unfairly doled out to more populous parts of Louisiana if the roads are transferred.
"I think rural parishes will be on the short end of the equation," Riser said.
In other business, the Police Jury formed a three-person committee consisting of jurors Buddy Parks, Jackie Johnson and Troy Hendry to examine if the parish could save money in fuel purchasing.