The future of Leesville and Vernon Parish is beginning to look a little clearer.

The future of Leesville and Vernon Parish is beginning to look a little clearer. 

At Monday's Leesville City Council meeting, Logan Morris, Chair of the Economic Development Committee with the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce, provided an update as to issues surrounding the upcoming deployment from Fort Polk.

New missions may bring more Soldiers to Fort Polk, which would potentially help to fill the void, caused by the deployment. "If we can get one more 500-man brigade combat team, great. If we get two, that would be fantastic," said Morris. This would help to offset the negatives of the deployment. 

Concern about the local economy and education system have been topics of conversation since learning about a deployment scheduled for late August or early September.

The new liaison between the Pentagon and Congress, General Brian E. Winski met with Fort Polk Progress recently on their trip to Washington, D.C.

Fort Polk Progress is an organization that maintains relationships and partners with decision-makers in Congress, at the Pentagon, and at the state and local levels. The group works to ensure that the most up-to-date information, concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding communities, is used in decisions concerning the base.

"General Winski understands the uniqueness of Fort Polk, and he was very supportive," said Morris.

At the meeting, Fort Polk Progress emphasized the many things Leesville does for Fort Polk, including the importance of the school system.

The Vernon Parish School District, which serves Fort Polk's population, is number four in the state, out of 71 districts, including two blue ribbon schools.

Additionally, Fort Polk is the largest single employer in the state, netting $980 million per year.

"We highlighted to the folks at the Pentagon, and Congressmen, that the people of Vernon Parish and Leesville have done all they can to support the military," said Morris. "They know that the state of Louisiana has put their money where their mouth is, and ensured that our educators aren't going to lose their jobs because of a reduction in troop strength and military dependents in the educational system."

Affirmation that they are going to do the best they can to help with this fluctuation to the population is paramount. "If we placed our eggs in that basket, then we need to know they will support us," he said.

The Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce is exploring issues related to the tax obligation of Corvias Housing. 

Corvias is the development, construction, and property management company, which provides housing on Fort Polk. "The Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce is taking on an initiative to try and level the playing field for housing," said Morris. Fort Polk is not involved with this initiative.

As a residential real estate company, Corvias is offering their units to non-military customers. The company should be taxed the same as other commercial businesses in the same market, according to Morris. 

Vernon Parish has contributed 47% of its land to Fort Polk, and, in doing so, given up the right to tax that property.  "This makes it very difficult for home owners, military and otherwise, to protect their investments, if they're not competing on a level playing field with other people who have to pay property taxes," said Morris. 

Corvias argued that this could cause a rise in housing prices on Fort Polk. "The fact is," said Morris, "military service members are already losing 100% of their BAH [basic allowance for housing] to Corvias. It can't possibly get any higher than that. So, it would be coming out of [Corvias'] bottom line."