Avoyelles School Board committee recommends lower camp leases

Goes to full board for approval Nov. 5

Camp leases on 16th Section tracts will cost less and have a longer lease period if the Avoyelles School Board approves a committee recommendation at next Tuesday’s (Nov. 7) board meeting.

After months of discussing the need for a new appraisal and who should do that appraisal, the board’s Building & Lands Committee received and discussed the recommended lease prices.

The committee approved the appraisal on a 3-1 vote, with Van Kojis voting “no” because he wants additional information from the district attorney on the matter. Chairman Rickey Adams was absent. Committee members Robin Moreau and Chris Robinson and President Lynn Deloach voted in favor.

The committee also recommended reducing the cost of Section 16 hunting permits by the same vote.

Four years ago, the board adopted what many said were exorbitantly high lease rates of $1,800 for prime lots on Old River and $1,500 for other camp sites.

NEW LEASE SCHEDULE

Under the new lease schedule, prime lots on the Old River tract will cost $1,650 a year. Others on the tract will cost $900 and $700.

On Spring Bayou, most camp sites would cost $700 a year and a few would cost $500 a year.

Camp sites on the Saline Section 16 would cost $600 a year.

The 11 camp sites on the Garfish tract would be $400 a month and the 13 on the Mussel Lake section would be $450.

The committee also recommended doubling lease periods to 10 years.

Several people speaking at the committee meeting said the longer lease period would encourage people to improve their camp sites while the shorter period discourages improvements.

In a related matter, the committee reduced the cost of a hunting license from $200 to $75, with the stipulation that the person buying the permit also pay the cost of a background check to ensure they would not be banned from carrying a firearm or being on school district property.

Under the current lease, lessees are given two free hunting permits.

Under the proposed lease, there would be no free permits.

APPLIES TO NEW LEASES

Another element of the lower priced leases is they would only apply to new leases signed after July 1, 2020.

Current 5-year leases would remain in effect until they expire. Lessees with the higher leases would continue to receive two free hunting permits with their lease.

Most concerned citizens speaking at the meeting were in favor of the lower lease rates and lower hunting permit costs.

One said the rates should remain higher to collect more money to support the schools.

Some who were in favor of the lower rates said it wasn’t fair that those who had a year or longer on a lease would have to pay the higher rate.

It was decided the current leases would have to remain in effect until they expire.

The School Board has 362 possible sites on five 16th Section tracts. At this time, 174 camp sites are leased, Maintenance Supervisor Steve Marcotte said.

The district is receiving $178,200 per year in lease payments.

If every camp site were leased at the recommended rate, the district would receive $202,200 -- $24,000 more than it currently earns, Marcotte said.

However, he said if leases remained at the present number, the district would earn only $105,450 -- $72,750 less than it currently receives in lease payments.

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