Letters for 08-07-2014

School Projects Bonanza
Union Parish will soon see an economic boon like none before.
Over the next three years, close to $60 million in construction projects will be completed to bring schools throughout the parish into the 21st century.
“There’s little question that we’ve never seen activity like we’ll see during that time,” said Tommy Futch, president of the D’Arbonne Woods Charter School board of directors.
Last year, officials with D’Arbonne Woods secured a loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development to build a 113,000-square foot facility at the intersection of Louisiana 33 and 15. Site work on the $16.8 million project has already begun. Pam Schooler, executive director at the school, said the project should be completed by Christmas 2015, meaning the first senior class at D’Arbonne Woods will have graduation ceremonies at the new school.
About the time that project is nearing completion, work will begin on $42.5 million in improvements to facilities of the Union Parish School System following voter approval of a 13.5-mill property tax in May. Improvements will be made to Union Parish Elementary, the combine campus of Union Parish Junior High and High School and to the facility the system leases to the Downsville Charter School.
“I don’t know if there has ever been that type of activity in the parish at one time,” said system superintendent Dr. George Cannon. “Think of the impact it will have on sales taxes, with employees buying gas and meals and shopping in our stores. And it will last for up to three years. It will be huge.”
Though it can’t be attributed to what is about to happen, the town of Farmerville has already begun to see an increase in sales tax collections. For its fiscal year starting July 1, the town adopted a budget that showed a three percent increase in sales tax collections. Town Clerk Gay Nell Pepper said that’s consistent with the increase the town saw during its 2013-2014 fiscal year.
As Cannon stated, workers coming to Farmerville will leave tax dollars in the community. The super also said the construction management firm that will oversee the projects will place a special emphasis on hiring as many workers as possible who are residents of Union Parish. That will translate into more money flowing into the local economies.
We applaud voters who approved the parish plan and officials with D’Arbonne Woods for their perhaps unintended stimulus of the local economies.
We urge government agencies that will realize increased tax collections to use the money wisely.
Who knows when, or even if, the parish will see something like this again?