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Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

Natchitoches taxpayer dollars fund the annual Christmas festival employees

Lia Portillo Cantarero
Despite speculation of taxes funding the festival lights, Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. said the taxes only fund workers involved in the upkeeping and security of the festival.

Speculation among Natchitoches residents regarding their taxpayer dollars funding the lights and decorations of the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival has been proven false.

Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. explained that no additional taxes are added on Natchitoches residents to fund the Christmas festival. However, the city’s employees working during the festival are paid through taxpayer dollars.

“There’s no special tax for the Christmas festival,” Williams said. “It’s true to the extent that you have employees that are being paid by the taxpayers, so to that extent you have taxpayer dollars being used only for employee-based support.”

The employees paid by taxpayer funds include those in the public works department, responsible for maintaining cleanliness at the festival, law enforcement providing security and utility workers managing the installation of the decorations.

“Many people say how we pay for the lights, is that the people’s light bills go up. But that’s not true either,” Williams clarified.

Williams explained that the Historic District Business Association (HDBA) plays a large part in funding the Christmas festival.

“There’s an organization called the Historic District Business Association that is mostly incharge of funding,” Williams said. “They get their money primarily from vendors and the armbands that they sell, that’s where the most of their revenue comes from.”

Natchitoches residents who are also faculty, staff and students at Northwestern State University of Louisiana shared their opinions on what they believe their taxes support during this holiday season.

Stephanie Masson, an instructor in the Department of English, Languages and Cultural Studies and a former editor for The Natchitoches Times, was already aware of HDBA’s role in financing the Christmas festival. Masson believes her property taxes do not fund the event.

“Property taxes on land owned do not fund the Natchitoches Christmas Festival,” Masson said. “It is funded through the Natchitoches Historic District Foundation, which gets money from hotel and motel taxes in the parish and through ticket sales for festival admission, corporate sponsors, etc.”

Denali Cobb, a senior psychology major and Natchitoches resident, was unsure of the exact funding but believed that taxes did not finance the Christmas festival.

“I know from other festivals in Louisiana, funding money comes from vendor fees and sponsors,” Cobb explained. “They also charge guests to get in, which I think could possibly help cover the cost of the festival.”

Rannon Jett, a freshman communication major, believed that taxes played a role in financing the festival.

“Yes, taxpayer dollars go into the Christmas festival, because the festival is a staple of Natchitoches tradition,” Jett said.

“With all the amount of effort put into the festival, it’s pretty obvious,” Jett added.

Heather Salter Dromm, an instructor in the English department, believed that the Christmas festival’s funds come from ticket sales and not taxes.

“I am not 100% sure, but I think that the Christmas festival funds itself through ticket sales,” Dromm said.

Dromm also said that she greatly appreciates the Christmas festival, and what it does for local businesses and their employees with the tourist revenue it brings to the Natchitoches area.

Despite contradicting opinions and uncertainties, Williams has confirmed that Natchitoches taxpayers’ dollars are not allocated for the planning and setup of the Christmas festival.

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About the Contributors
Kallie Bourgeois
Kallie Bourgeois, Current Sauce - Reporter
Kallie Bourgeois is a freshman communication major, with a minor in sociology at NSU. This is her second semester as a reporter for The Current Sauce. She has had a love for storytelling since high school, where she spent a year as her school’s Editor for their newspaper. Kallie looks forward to continuing her passion for journalism by delivering stories of exciting events happening on campus and in the Natchitoches area.  
Lia Portillo Cantarero
Lia Portillo Cantarero, Current Sauce - Editor-in-Chief
Lia Portillo Cantarero is a junior communication major. This is her third year in The Current Sauce and as Editor-in-Chief she hopes to raise awareness around the stories that are happening in the campus community. For Lia, becoming the Editor-in-Chief has been a dream and she is honored to carry the legacy of The Current Sauce forward.

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    KevinNov 22, 2023 at 10:00 am

    I haven’t looked at my electric bill lately but in the past there were two charges that make up the electric bill. The cost of buying the electric bill and the shared cost of maintaining the electrical network. When I looked at this in the past this second cost went up considerably in around the festival. I always assumed that was for the additional cost of the network with all the lights running and putting them up and taking them down. Perhaps I am wrong in that regard