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DayeTime: ‘One Stop Shop’

Next month the Avoyelles Police Jury will be revisiting an old idea that is new again. The nickname of the proposal is the “One Stop Shop.”

It could be called the “courthouse annex” or the “parish services center” if you wanted to sound all official and whatnot.

Simply put, it will move several parish offices out of the courthouse so they will be more accessible to the public.

No, it is not “Justice Center, Part Deux.” In fact, it is a “prequel” to that particular drama.

The Police Jury thought about moving its Permit Office, HUD Office, Emergency Preparedness, Veterans Affairs and maybe a few other programs out of the courthouse and into a nearby vacant building.

There are three or four to choose from.

The plan was to allow citizens in need of those services to easily access them in a building where they don’t have to go through a metal detector, climb a narrow, dark stair case or risk getting stuck in an aging elevator to take care of their business.

In addition, the plan is to remove the need for people to make more than one trip to get that business done.

The “one-stop shop” would set up an arrangement with the 911 Center to collect fees for its permit needs at the same time the parish is collecting fees for its permit.

There would also be a quick-connect arrangement with the Clerk of Court’s Office to collect fees and obtain documents needed for the parish business.

That project was put on hold when the Justice Center idea built up steam just about the time the Police Jury was receiving sales offers from property owners around the courthouse.

Why buy an old building to renovate when there will be ample space in the existing old building we can renovate?

Well, like Acacia Filmed Entertainment’s last two movie projects, the Justice Center production bombed at the box office.

So now we go back to the original idea -- smaller in scale, more narrow in focus and, perhaps most importantly, dealing with services that don’t involve criminals, bitter civil suits and attorneys.

There may be a sneak premiere of “One Stop Shop” at the Police Jury’s committee meeting on Feb. 6 if jurors want to discuss their hopes for the project.

Offers are supposed to be in by Feb.10 and opened on Feb. 11. The jury may act on the offers at its meeting on Feb. 11.

Then again, jurors may decide now is not the time to spend money to move public offices out of the courthouse.

The upside is, they won’t be asking voters to approve a tax to fund the move.

The purchase, renovation and moving costs associated with the proposed service center could be covered by dipping into the jury’s reserve funds.

That money has built up a little bit by little bit over the years to be available in the event of a “rainy day.”

I am not a financial wizard by any stretch of the imagination. The only way someone should use my financial advice is to listen carefully, take detailed notes and then do exactly the opposite of what I said.

That being said, I am not a big fan of big reserves of public funds.

Again, about this time the City of Marksville is wishing they had been able to accumulate $1 million “rainy day” reserve over the past few years.

I look at reserves the same way I looked at a dear, old French-speaking aunt when we gave her a really nice nightgown for Christmas.

She never wore it.

“Lala, why don’t you ever wear that nightgown Karen and I gave you,” I asked a few years later.

“Oh, I’m saving it for good,” she said.

I believe you should use what you have for the best purpose possible.

That sounds like financial advice, so refer back to my previous paragraph.

The Police Jury is using some of its accumulated reserve to make improvements to the Parish Barn. The next phase of that project would be to build a garbage transfer station that would enable it to take more control over the parishwide solid waste program in the future.

I hope they move forward with that idea. I’m tired of fishing my garbage can out of the deep ditch in front of my house or having to stop dead in the highway to move the can so I can get to the carport.

Maybe the next garbage collection contractor will have a better “customer service” attitude because the company will know they aren’t the only game in town.

But back to “One Stop.”

Buy the property, rejuvenate it, give as many parish services as possible a new, modern home. Provide a community meeting room for various boards, commissions and organizations. Maybe even have an area that will one day, maybe soon, be needed as a third courtroom.

I hate to sound like the grasshopper in the fable, but maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about possible future problems that we ignore the ones we have right now.

AVOYELLES JOURNAL
BUNKIE RECORD
MARKSVILLE WEEKLY

105 N Main St
Marksville, LA 71351
(318) 253-9247