School Tax Vote Set for Next April

12/07/2016

A Saturday, April 29, 2017 election was set at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) for voters to consider whether or not to re-impose three property taxes parish-wide for Lincoln schools.

Two of the millages are for 4.94 mils, and the other is for 8.98. Total collections are estimated at about $8 million. They are set to expire in 2018 and 2019.

The purpose of the taxes 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, more specifically as follows:(i) 5O% for paying salaries and benefits of teachers and other employees of the Lincoln Parish School Board, and (ii) 5O% for paying retirees single coverage health insurance premiums, paying for computer technology equipment, software, maintenance and training, cost of mandated summer school program, and for operating, improving and maintaining school buildings, facilities, vehicles and equipment.”

See here the resolution.

City Council Approves Garbage Ordinance

12/06/2016

As expected, Ruston’s Board of Aldermen approved unanimously a revised ordinance at last night’s meeting relative to the city’s collection of garbage, trash, and refuse.

Public Works Director Darryll Caraway said the final draft differed from what was originally introduced. One change is that since residential customers would receive pickup once weekly instead of twice, they could obtain a second container.

Mayor Ronny Walker also noted that changes were made in the procedure for commercial garbage pickup, as that part of the ordinance hadn’t been revised in some time.

In other business, the council approved several dozen budget amendments for the fiscal year ended 9/30/16. Notable was $567 thousand in spending for acquisition of industrial park property, $523 thousand for recycling, and $1.1 million in revenues from oil and gas property leases.

See here the complete list.

Trump Expected in Baton Rouge: WBRZ-TV2 Baton Rouge

12/06/2016

Donald Trump expected in Baton Rouge Friday

By: Trey Schmaltz

BATON ROUGE – President-elect Donald Trump is expected in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon, multiple sources told WBRZ Tuesday.

Sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the event is still being planned. Two sources with knowledge of a planned visit said staff were trying to find a venue. Before the election, Trump’s schedule was regularly updated with seemingly spur-of-the-moment rallies that were heavily attended. Events are known to attract thousands of people. At a campaign event in Baton Rouge in early 2016, more than 10,000 filled the River Center. A visit Friday may require space for more than the number of people who attended the first Baton Rouge campaign stop.

Trump would likely be in Baton Rouge stumping for State Treasurer John Kennedy who is in a runoff election against Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell for David Vitter’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Vitter decided not to run for re-election after losing the race for governor to John Bel Edwards.

Should Trump visit Baton Rouge Friday, it’d be his third visit in 2016. In August, Donald Trump spent a few hours touring flood-damaged areas. He held the campaign event at the River Center in February.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tomorrow

12/05/2016

The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, December 6, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Board of Aldermen Monday

12/04/2016

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet tomorrow (Monday, December 5) at 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

An ordinance relative to the city’s garbage and trash collection will be up for final adoption. A public hearing will held for input from any citizen who wishes to comment.

See here the final draft of the ordinance.

Louisiana Taxpayers STILL Ain’t Paying Enough, They Say

12/01/2016

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ task force recommends $700 million boost for transportation

BY WILL SENTELL | wsentell@theadvocate.com

A task force named by Gov. John Bel Edwards proposed Thursday that state aid for roads and bridges be increased by $700 million per year.

The panel, which scheduled a final vote on the plan Dec. 13, did not specify how to finance the yearly boost.

However, a resolution that spells out the recommendation said the state gasoline tax is “the most reliable, proven and meaningful source of funding” but other sources should be considered too.

The state gasoline tax, which is sure to be a big part of any funding plan, would have to be increased by about 23 cents per gallon to come up with $700 million in new dollars per year.

The state already faces a wide range of budget problems, and tax increases require the support of two thirds of the House and Senate.

Motorists pay 38.4 cents per gallon today, including 20 cents in state gasoline taxes.

The proposals, including the $700 million increase, will be posted online by DOTD for public comments.

VP-Elect Pence to Visit NOLA Saturday

11/29/2016

Vice-President Elect Mike Pence will visit Louisiana Saturday, a week before the runoff for U. S. Senate between Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democrat Public Service Commission member Foster Campbell.

According to the press release, all the state’s GOP statewide elected officials will be there, in addition to the state’s Republican congressional delegation.

Doors will open at 10:45 a.m. at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Bastian Mitchell Hangar, 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd.

See here the announcement.

Early Voting Underway in Louisiana

11/27/2016

Early voting for the December 10 General Election is underway in Lincoln Parish. It began Saturday, 11/26, and will continue through Saturday, December 4. Registered voters can vote in person at the Lincoln Parish Court House, Registrar of Voters office on the ground floor.

Here is the ballot for most of the parish

U. S. Senator (Select 1)
Foster Campbell #3 Democrat
John Kennedy #13 Republican

PW Prop. No. 1 – 4.41 Mills – PJ – 10 Yrs. (Select 1)
Shall the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “Parish”), levy a special tax of four and forty-one hundredths (4.41) mills on all property subject to taxation within the Parish (an estimated $2,028,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2017 and ending with the year 2026, for the maintenance and/or improvement of public roads and bridges throughout the Parish? YES/NO

Shall the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “Parish”), levy a special tax of four and forty-one hundredths (4.41) mills on all property subject to taxation within the Parish (an estimated $2,028,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2017 and ending with the year 2026, for the construction, improvement and/or hardsurfacing of public roads and bridges throughout the Parish? YES/NO

The City of Grambling will have this tax to decide upon.

Shall the City of Grambling, State of Louisiana (“City”), pursuant to Article VI, Section 30 and 32 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, as amended, and other constitutional and statutory authority, continue to levy and collect a special tax of five (5.00) mills on all property subject to taxation in the City (an estimated $55,387 reasonably expected to be collected from said levy for an entire year) for a period of ten (10) years, commencing with the year 2017, for the purposes of maintaining, operating, improving, and supporting the waterworks system of the City? YES/NO

Second Circuit Court Issues Surface

11/23/2016

Attorney blows whistle on Second Circuit Judge Larry Lolley for ex-parte messages in Sixth St. bar case

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com 2 hrs ago 0

Second Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Larry Lolley initiated an ex-parte communication with Monroe attorney Mark Neal last month, warning the attorney the appellate court would likely rule against his client, the Sixth Street Saloon in Monroe, prior to a hearing on the bar’s appeal.

The ex-parte communication was conveyed in text messages from Lolley to Neal on Oct. 27. Ex-parte communications concerning substantive matters or the merits of a case are forbidden, according to the state Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct.

Lolley, of Monroe, said Neal was wasting time pursuing his client’s lawsuit and should take his career into consideration before taking such cases. Lolley also indicated the Second Circuit’s three-judge panel – including himself – would likely favor the defendant, not Neal’s client.

Neal reported the incident to the Second Circuit in an Oct. 31 letter that included screenshots of the text message exchange with Lolley. The Ouachita Citizen obtained the documents through a public records request to the court.

“This exchange clearly and unfortunately demonstrates unsolicited, ex-parte communication from Judge Lolley to me regarding a case pending before this court and to which the three presiding judges are referenced by name,” stated Neal’s letter to the court.

Rapides DA Bookkeeper in the Till

11/21/2016

From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – Seized Cash Assets Not Deposited

Records indicate that the District Attorney for the 9th Judicial District (District Attorney) received $794,166 in seized cash assets from local law enforcement agencies from January 1, 2009 through October 31, 2015, that were not deposited into the District Attorney’s bank accounts. The records further indicate that: (a) $267,640 in funds from sources other than seized assets were deposited improperly into the asset forfeiture bank account; and (b) the District Attorney’s Office failed to disburse $281,015 in asset forfeitures as ordered by the 9th Judicial District Court (Court). Former Bookkeeper Margaurette Beard was primarily responsible for receiving, recording, and depositing seized cash assets and disbursing those funds in accordance with Court judgments. By failing to ensure that all seized cash assets were properly recorded and deposited, allowing funds from sources other than asset forfeitures to be diverted into the asset forfeiture bank account, failing to comply with Court orders, and failing to properly disburse asset forfeiture funds, Ms. Beard may have violated state and federal laws.

Several years ago, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) did a series of stories on the pitfalls of asset forfeiture laws.