The People's Tribune

Louisiana Mayor Marvin Brown Reflects On First Year In Office

Louisiana Mayor Marvin Brown submitted the following article as he reflects on his first year in office as mayor.

It’s been one year now since I was sworn in as Mayor of Louisiana. We’ve moved a few things forward, identified some significant challenges and started some important conversations around how to tackle those challenges and see our community realize its tremendous potential.
On the plus side – and to be clear I had no role in it – Massman Engineering is making excellent progress replacing the Champ Clark Bridge. We expect this to increase traffic on Highway 54 through town and have been working on a few things to take advantage of that happening. First, we’ve worked on updates to City Ordinance Chapter 405 that identifies what uses are allowed within specific land use zones. A hearing on those changes is scheduled for June 13, 6pm at City Hall. Once that’s done we have two other tasks to address, one being to decide whether to expand the City’s boundary. And once we have either made some changes to our boundary, or decided to leave things as is, we need to update the land use zones themselves.
On the “works in progress” ledger we have Georgia Street still pretty much a mess. Folks should plan on it being that way for a while yet.
Some bids for various aspects of the massive project have come in much higher than expected. In order to stay within budget we have elected to do more of the work with City employees and that will slow things down. Unlike a contractor, our employees can’t just concentrate on getting this one thing done and moving on. There are constantly other things that have to be attended to, so please be patient and understand people are working as fast and hard as they can.
Other items in process include replacing the Sunset Park Pavilion, a front-to-back review of City Code, a new Tree Ordinance, some thoughts on what to do about 40+ vacant buildings in town, and responding to a set of recommendations for the Police Department that were provided by a 3rd party criminal justice consultant. This is a pretty diverse list, but it reflects the wide range of issues and opportunities that require attention.
On the “here’s hoping” list we’re getting ready to host our first ever Ribs on the River Barbecue Contest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society on June 21st and 22nd. Because of river flooding this event is going to be combined with the International Chili Society sanctioned Show-me State Chili Cook-off that would normally be held in Clarksville. There’s also going to be a Backyard Barbecue Contest. You weekend experts can come tailgate in the City Hall Parking Lot, have your wares ranked by certified BBQ Judges and compete for some prize money as well.
We’ve had great support from local businesses and are putting together a fun time for everyone. Pike County Memorial Hospital will be there with a Mobil Health Screening Facility. Air-evac will be showing off one of their helicopters. There will be some great live music Friday night and all-day Saturday, along with a pie baking contest and a Friday night bourbon tasting. There will be food and drink to buy, plus opportunities to sample chili and BBQ cooked by the pros. You can learn more and sign up to compete at www.visitlouisianamo.com/ribs-on-the-river.
Despite all this we still have big challenges on the books. The most pressing is city revenues. Sales taxes make up about half of the City’s general revenue and those dollars are down. There’s a combination of causes including the growing popularity of online purchasing and the loss of a couple of businesses. We need to attract more commerce back into town, but we’re also going to have to think about other sources of revenue. We may, in fact, need to ask voters to increase the property tax if we are to have adequately staffed and equipped police and fire departments, back streets that aren’t in such awful condition and better care for our parks, trees and other amenities that make a city attractive to visitors and potential newcomers.
The other big challenge is citizen involvement. So far, I’ve run into just a handful of people who are willing to commit time and energy to actually getting things accomplished for the good of their community. Believe me, I am so appreciative of those individuals. They show up and they do the work. Some folks show up, but that’s pretty much where their effort ends. Obviously most never show up at all. We have so many things to get done and many aren’t that difficult, they just need a person willing to see it accomplished. If you want to see what the full “to-do” list looks like go to the City’s website www.louisiana-mo.com and click on the Draft Comprehensive Community Plan. If it’s not the right set of things we need to be working on, then tell me what you think should be in the plan. If you see things in there you agree with, then we could sure use the help.

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