Coushatta Mayor Johnny Cox is concerned that the town live on the money it takes in. So there have been adjustments to the operating budget, and downsizing of the city workforce.
The Journal spoke with the mayor on the need for the adjustments. Cox said “the adjustments were made so that the city would operate within the current tax base. “ And Cox said “any reduction in staff was done through attrition. When people left they were not replaced.”
Recently a new chief of police was hired and several members of the force left. The mayor says “Coushatta is blessed not to have the crime rate of other towns. But at some point we will have to consider not having a police department.” Cox adds that there is at present one position open on the city police force. He expects a new officer will be hired soon.
Other budget considerations include upgrading Coushatta’s “curb appeal.” Mayor Cox says improving the look of Front Street and replacing damaged sidewalks are part of his plans to make the town more attractive to tourists. Also on Cox’s agenda are replacing the roof on the old Sunbeam plant, upgrades to the city water and sewage infrastructure, and building a new park on the old trade school property.
The Journal asked how the city would pay for these improvements, and what is the priority for accomplishing them. Cox says the sidewalk upgrades are moving ahead because there were funds available.
“We had a meeting recently at city hall with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, Congressman Mike Johnson, State Representative Kenny Cox. They are up to speed on our needs and will help Coushatta with state and federal funding for water and sewer repairs” said the Mayor.
As for the timing of projects, Cox said “repairing sidewalks costs less than rebuilding the sewer and water systems. And it is quicker to do.” The sewer and water system upgrades have been in the works for seven years. Cox said “repairing the water system is a $1,000,000 project. We should have everything in place in another year to get the loan for a water system upgrade.”