DayeTime: City, town or village?
What’s in a name? Or, in this case, a municipal designation?
There are nine municipalities in Avoyelles Parish. Using the population benchmarks of 0 to 999 = Village, 1,000 to 4,999 = town and over 5,000 = city, we have one city, four towns and four villages.
Bunkie insists on calling itself a city and I have gone along. After all, the newspaper article is not a legal document. I could call it the Grand Duchy of Acadiana and it wouldn’t matter because nobody would notice.
I did ask the Louisiana Municipal Association once whether Bunkie was classified a “city” because it once had a population of over 5,000 or if it was now deemed a “town” because it has lost population.
The LMA employee said it is a town.
I think we’ll still call it a city.
I, personally, don’t like the word “village.”
It raises images of torches and pitchforks.
Besides that, it is a whole syllable longer to say and three keystrokes longer to type than my preferred designation of “town.” And you can forget about fitting it in a headline.
So, if I start referring to Plaucheville, Evergreen, Hessmer and Moreauville as “towns” it’s because that word is easily understood by readers to mean “a small municipality” and “village” is cumbersome.
That doesn’t mean the elected officials can claim higher population counts when seeking grants.
It also doesn’t mean the three Lawrason Act villages can elect five aldermen instead of three in their next municipal elections.
Moreauville and Hessmer are within striking distance of reaching that magic 1,000 mark to change their legal status from village to town.
That could happen next year when the Census is taken.
Plaucheville and Evergreen are still several hundred people away.
Evergreen already has five aldermen because it is governed by a city charter and not the state’s Lawrason Act for municipalities.
Unless Bunkie expands its corporate boundaries to include residential areas, it is doubtful it will regain its legal city status in time for the 2020 Census.
The opening of the juvenile detention center this year raised the prospect of a few hundred new Bunkians, but it is unclear whether any new residents to the parish settled in Bunkie or in the nearby rural communities and neighboring municipalities.
There can be benefits to being in a municipality -- better police protection, better fire rating, possibly even municipal sewer service. If the municipality is the water department for the nearby rural communities, the annexed homes would pay less for water.
Of course, there would be some small property taxes and one or two cents of municipal sales tax that would only be a factor when you bought a car.
The nine municipalities might want to consider expanding their borders -- not only to gain more residents and more property on the tax rolls, but to secure undeveloped land for business and industrial development for their future progress.
The property taxes from that development would not only enable the municipality to improve services to its residents, but it would have a ripple effect outside of the city limits.
There are some logistical problems to annexation in several areas. Water districts are one issue.
Some municipalities’ water systems includes customers several miles from the city limits. However, in some cases, a rural water district is serving customers just outside of town.
Annexing those homes poses a question of how to switch water providers or, if that cannot legally be done (I haven’t researched the issue), how to provide city sewer service to a property not served by the municipal water system?
Maybe that’s not as big a problem as it looks to me.
Then there’s a mailing address issue. The Mansura mailing address and the Bunkie mailing address have Hessmer blocked in.
If the parish’s youngest municipality expands even a short distance in any direction, it would be annexing neighborhoods with a different ZIP code and some other town’s name attached to it.
Most population estimates for this parish and its municipalities predict a decline in the 2020 Census. The population has remained about the same for the past several Censuses, so I don’t expect a dramatic change, either up or down.
In the meantime, maybe the municipalities should talk to their nearby unincorporated neighbors to tell them what the town can offer if they choose to join the club.
The “free folk” outside of the city limits might also want to drop by Town Hall some day and ask if there are any benefits to becoming a town citizen that would be worth the extra cost in property and sales taxes.
In the end, home is what you make it -- whether its rural, village, town or city.