(Central, La.) - Senator Bodi White, Representatives Valarie Hodges and Barry Ivey, as well as City officials, presented legislative updates on Wednesday at the first meeting the Central Chamber of Commerce has hosted since Governor Edward’s stay at home mandate was enacted in March.
Central City Mayor, David Barrow kicked off the meeting on a high note. He reported that in March, April, May and June of 2020, sales tax revenue is higher than it was for those months in 2019. In June specifically, sales tax revenue was up by 16% over 2019 revenues. “It’s great to know that our people are shopping local,” said Barrow.
The mayor also informed Chamber members that city administration is in the final stages of selecting a property for the new city hall. There is state funding available to begin the project. Information about the side selection is available on the city’s website at www.centralgov.com.
Dr. Jason Fountain reiterated the importance of voting for the schools’ millage renewal, which will be on the ballot Saturday, Aug. 15. He said that the millage is essential to getting Central High School up to the world-class standards that most of the Central schools already have. “Students cannot just leave high school with a diploma. We have to make sure they are either ready for college or ready for a career.”
As chair of the Finance Committee, Senator Bodi White worked on several projects during the two legislative sessions this year. Two he highlighted on Wednesday were Sullivan Road construction and a Main Street Recovery Grant Fund. The fund used money from the federal CARES Act to give grants of up to $25,000.00 to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. “We took care of the state, we took care of the local governments and there was a group of legislators that wanted to take care of small business,” said White.
Representatives Barry Ivey and Valarie Hodges focused on different issues this year. Ivey said his top priorities included tax reform, institutional reform, pension reform and transparency and accountability. With this focus, he was able to help create a joint committee on technology and cybersecurity to make the Louisiana government more effective by creating access to real-time data. Hodges's top priority was to create and expand the Comite Diversion Canal task force to include the Amite River Basin. She also encouraged the five flood mitigation projects proposed by the Core after the 1983 flood, including the Darlington Reservoir. “According to a Dewberry & Associates model, had the Darlington Reservoir been in place in 2016, flood levels would have been reduced by seven feet in Watson, five feet in Central and two to three feet in Denham Springs.
The Central Chamber of Commerce is a 501 (c) 6 membership organization that serves its members and community by promoting and protecting a pro-business environment.