IRS Files Claim on Monroe City School Board Prez

01/19/2017

MCSB president owes $101,000 in unpaid taxes

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

The Internal Revenue Service filed a tax lien against Monroe City School Board President Rodney McFarland last month for some $101,000 in unpaid taxes, according to court documents obtained by The Ouachita Citizen.

The lien, prepared and signed by the IRS on Dec. 13, 2016, was filed at the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court’s office.

The federal tax lien notice details six unpaid balances on 1040 taxes totaling $101,708.11. The unpaid balances were assessed on tax periods from December 2010 to December 2015. Each of the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 tax periods recorded unpaid balances of some $16,000 to some $22,000.

Previously, McFarland received a notice of tax lien from the state Department of Revenue for $42,612.74 in unpaid sales taxes in February 2015, as first reported by The Ouachita Citizen. He also received a notice of tax lien for $71,468.48 in unpaid corporate and sales taxes in April 2010 from the state.

Former Parish Fire Chief Loses Suit for Comp Pay, Benefits

01/18/2017

Former Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1 Fire Chief Dennis Ford is not entitled to comp time pay and paid medical benefits, a Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court judge has ruled.

Wrote Division A Judge Cynthia Woodard in a ruling filed 1/13/27:

As a result, the Court finds that the Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof on his claims for compensatory time, post-retirement health insurance coverage, and his claim under the Louisiana Wage Payment Act. Therefore, the Court denies all claims asserted by the Plaintiff against the Defendant for the aforesaid reasons.

Woodard noted that “Mr. Ford was an executive, administrative, or professional employee, who is exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) or payment of any comp time.”

Also, “…the Court further notes that there were no writings memorializing any such agreement as to the comp time. Any conversations Mr. Ford had with Mr. Thompson (former Board Chair Tom Thompson) about comp time do not appear to have been considered or approved by the Board.”

Regarding the medical benefits, Woodard wrote, “Mr. Ford was aware that the retiree class was a closed class before the policy was accepted, well before his retirement. He was also aware that no other retiree since Mr. Kirkland has been allowed to remain on the insurance.”

See here the complete Reasons for Ruling.

Ford had originally sued in September, 2014 and had demanded nearly half a million dollars in comp time.

See here the original lawsuit.

The bench trial (as opposed to a jury trial) was held last October at the Lincoln Parish Court House in Ruston.

Ford’s attorney was Daniel Street. Representing the district was Shreveport Attorney Michael Lowe.

Sumlin Hearing Delayed, Again

01/17/2017

Once again, a hearing on a Motion to Strike on behalf of William Sumlin was delayed in a Ruston courtroom of Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court late this afternoon. The hearing was reset for February 21, 2017.

Additional motions will be filed prior to that date, the court was advised.

Sumlin is scheduled to be tried in March on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Presiding was Divison B Judge Tommy Rogers.

Appearing for Sumlin was Monroe attorney LaValle Salomon, and for the State of Louisiana, Assistant District Attorney Lewis Jones.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Continued

01/16/2017

After the election of officers at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) there was some other business transacted: appointments to several boards and commissions around the parish.

  • Greater Ward One Waterworks District – Mr. Rusty Mabry
  • Waterworks District Number 3 – Mr. Willard Anderson
  • Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District – Mr. Richard Aillet
  • Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control – Ms. Gay O’Neal
  • Lincoln Parish Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:
    Mr. Marco Born Representing Louisiana Tech University
    Ms. Suzanne Douglas Representing Grambling State University

Finally, an ordinance was introduced and a public hearing scheduled for three adjudicated property parcels.  That hearing will be at the 2/14 meeting of the jury.

Sixth Street Bar to Remain Closed, 2nd Circuit Rules

01/13/2017

The Sixth Street Bar, an establishment that had its liquor license revoked by the Monroe City Council in December, 2015, will remain closed, the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit ruled this morning.

Point Proven, LLC, the operator of the bar had sued in Fourth Judicial District Court to overturn the council’s action, but Judge Alvin Sharp ruled that the council had the authority to do what it did. Point Proven appealed.

Chief Judge Henry Brown, on behalf of a three judge panel, wrote:

The commissioner found plaintiff guilty of two separate violations of selling alcoholic beverages to underage persons. Accordingly, we find that the trial court was not manifestly erroneous in upholding the decision of the City to deny Point Proven’s liquor permit.

The ruling of the trial court is affirmed. Costs of this appeal are assessed against plaintiff, Point Proven, LLC.

See here the complete opinion.

What They’re Paid

01/12/2017

sheriff
Information from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report 7/1/15-6/30/16
clerk
Information from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report 7/1/15-6/30/16
assessor
Information from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report 1/1/15-12/31/15

Lincoln School District Begins Push for April Property Tax Vote

01/11/2017

The administration of the Lincoln Parish School District (LPSB) has begun a systematic push to convince voters that they should vote to re-impose three expiring property taxes that will go before voters on April 29th of this year. They are:

4.94 mils “for the purpose of constructing, equipping and/or improving school buildings in the District or for the maintenance thereof.”
4.94 mils “for the purpose of giving additional support for operation of public schools in the District.”
8.98 mils “for the purpose of giving additional support to public elementary and secondary schools…”

Here is the resolution authorizing the vote that was approved at the December meeting.

At last night’s meeting of the School Board, Business Manager George Murphy said he and several other staff members from the central office are touring the district’s schools and informing employees what’s at stake.

Said Murphy, “All these people around here are going – Mr. Milstead, Dr. Lewis, Mrs. Bastion, and me, we’re going out to the schools so people can talk to us and they can see us eye-to-eye, and ask any questions they may have.”

A Power Point presentation shown to the board claims that If the taxes are defeated, expect the following:

Salaries for all full time certified and support workers will be reduced.
This would likely cause a reduction in personnel.
This would hinder local teacher and support personnel raises in the future.
Less money would be available for maintenance and repair of buildings and grounds.
We would receive less MFP money from the state, since the formula rewards districts for its local effort.
Retirees will have to pay for their insurance premium.
Technology enhancements and improvements would likely have to be curtailed.
Funding for construction, operations and maintenance would be reduced.

Here is the complete presentation.

In other business, the board re-elected unanimously Joe Mitcham and Lynda Henderson as President and Vice President, respectively.

Roberson Elected LPPJ Prez

01/10/2017

While on a national level, it didn’t have the cosmic impact of Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, as far as local politics goes, Randy Roberson’s election as Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) President at tonight’s meeting was by all measures an upset.

Roberson (District Four), prevailed over incumbent President Jody Backus (District Seven) on a 6-5 vote.

Voting for Roberson were:

Theresa Wyatt (District One)
Bobby Bennett (District Three)
Randy Roberson (District Four)
Walter Pullen (District Six)
Skip Russell (District Eight)
Nancy Wilson (District Ten)

Voting for Backus were:

Hazel Hunter (District Two)
David Hammonds (District Five)
Jody Backus (District Seven)
Joe Henderson (District Nine)
Annette Straughter (District Twelve)

Sharyon Mayfield (District Eleven) was absent.

Wilson nominated Roberson, and Hammond nominated Backus.

Moments earlier, Joe Henderson was re-elected as Vice President also on a 6-5 vote. He was opposed by Nancy Wilson.

Henderson got the same votes as did Backus, with the addition of Pullen’s vote. Wilson got the same votes as did Roberson, minus Pullen.

Wilson was nominated by Wyatt, and Henderson by Backus.

We will have additional reporting later on the rest of the meeting.

Ruston’s $34 Million Bond Sale Plan Delayed

01/10/2017

A plan by the City of Ruston’s administration to issue up to $34 million in bonds to be repaid from sales tax revenues was delayed at last night’s City Council meeting. The bonds are to help finance Walker’s Moving Ruston Forward project of street, drainage, sewer, and recreation improvements.

Mayor Ronny Walker said he would soon be meeting in Baton Rouge with state officials to clear up the problem.

Said Walker, “This has been something that has been going on for 24 years, the rules have been the same. All of a sudden last month they decided to change them a little bit, so we feel we are on firm footing as far as our contract with the state. We just want to go down and make sure all of the votes are there.”

Earlier, City Attorney Bill Carter said the administration would likely be coming back to the council for approval of the bond sale plan at the February meeting.

In other business, the council approved contracts for two significant street construction projects.

Amethyst Construction was awarded $2 million to complete the extension of Martin Luther King Drive from its intersection of South Farmerville Street eastward to intersect with Mills Avenue. The right of way has been cleared, and the project is expected to be completed late in 2017 or early 2018, depending upon the weather.

Mills Avenue will be expanded to three lanes all the way to its intersection with South Vienna Street, Paul Riley of Riley Engineering told Lincoln Parish News Online.

Also, Womack & Sons of Harrisonburg was low bidder for the $7.3 million extension of I-20 North Service Road East from Tractor Supply eastward to Rough Edge Road, just over 1 1/2 miles. This project will take up to three years to complete, it was said.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tonight

01/10/2017

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet tonight (Tuesday, January 10), 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.