In August, the parish council voted to enact a trail ride ordinance revision which set the maximum number of horse riders at 500 and enacted stricter rules and an appeals process.
The 500 limit came from Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz, who during the June committee meetings told council members he could not police trail rides of more than 500 riders.
The sheriff later came back and said a limit of up to 1,000 was okay, since the proposed ordinance would require trail ride organizations to provide private security at the events.
The council nonetheless voted unanimously to approve the ordinance with 500 riders.
Parish President Don Menard, absent at meetings since June, vetoed the ordinance because of the 500 limit, even though he said he liked other parts of the ordinance.
Last month, the council failed to get the two-thirds vote required to override the president’s veto, and in a gesture of frustration, voted to draft an ordinance modelled after Acadia Parish’s trail ride ordinance, which gives the sheriff full responsibility for approving and licensing trail rides.
On Monday, Guidroz spoke to the council during its committee meetings and told them it is his understanding that it is unlawful for the council to give him extra duties, at least not without providing a source of funding for those duties.
“This body cannot just give the sheriff additional duties, you cannot do that,” Guidroz said.
Guidroz repeated his statement that he no longer has any objection to a maximum of 1,000 riders.
“I’ve since changed my mind, and we can do 1,000 riders, and that’s okay with me,” Guidroz told councilmembers.
Guidroz suggested the council reintroduce its latest trail ride revision with the limit set at 1,000.
He also recommended the council consider limiting trail rides to non-profit organizations.
The Finance Committee voted 5-0 to rescind the council’s motion to draft an ordinance based on Acadia Parish’s, and voted 4-0 to reintroduce their revised ordinance with the sheriff’s changes.
Council Chairman Jerry Red, Jr. expressed frustration with the council not being able to follow through on its decisions, whether or not he approves of them.
“I would like to see this council stand for something, anything, and not get all wishy-washy every time the sheriff shows up,” Red said.
District 11 Councilman Jay Guidry took offense at Red calling councilmembers “wishy-washy”.
District 10 Councilman Dexter Brown objected to the sheriff’s suggestion of limiting trail rides to non-profit organizations, and abstained from the committee’s vote to reintroduce the trail ride ordinance revision with the sheriff’s suggested changes.
Guidroz told the council that if it wanted to give him sole authority for permitting and licensing trail rides, there may be a source of funding to do so.
Guidroz told the council that a portion of money received from Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino to go to the sheriff was dedicated instead to the Opleousas Police Department to cover the added expense of policing the racino.
However, Guidroz told the council OPD Chief Perry Gallow told him the money was going into the city’s General Fund instead of his department.
“The people of Opelousas were shortchanged when this money was taken out of his department and put into the General Fund,” Guidroz said.
Guidroz suggested that since the money was not being used for its intended purpose, the council rededicate that money to his department to pay the additional costs he said would be incurred in licensing and permitting trail ride applications.
“I’m insisting that if you’re going to give me these extra duties, you’re going to have to give me the funding,” Guidroz said.
Parish Administrator Jesse Bellard suggested the council look into the matter first before reallocating the money. “Things may have changed in the last budget,” he said.
The Finance Committee approved inviting Gallow and Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins, Sr. to appear before the council and discuss the funding matter before any changes are made.