Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Race – The Money, Pt 3

09/18/2019

Here’s Stephen Williams’ finance report, including significant ($1000 or more) contributors:

BKM Enterprises – $1000
J&B Heating & Air – $1500
Wayne Aswell = $1000
Greg Bimle – $1000
Greg Brazzel – $1000
City Tele-Coin Company – $2,500
Mrs V. G. Clary – $1500
CTC Commissary – $2500
Patricia Doughty – $2500
John Driskill – $1200
Landon Hunt – $1000
Inmate Financial Services of LA – $1000
Lasalle Management Co – $2500
Karl Malone – $2500
Kay Malone – $2500
Duke Marcus – $1500
Don McGehee – $1000
Donna Murphy – $1000
Jackie Robbins, II – $1000
Linda Tuten – $1000
Charles H. Williams – $2000
Charles J. Williams – $1000
James Williams, Jr – $1000
Brian Woodard – $1000
James Worthey, Jr – $1000

Among the significant expenditures:

50+1 Strategies, Earl Albritton, Emprint Moran, Randall Gorman, Rapid Signs, Ruston Daily Leader, Super Sign Mart, and The Team Adverstising & Publishing.

Here’s the complete report.

Next up, we’ll report on the campaign finances of the two candidates for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor.

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Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Race – The Money, Pt 2

09/15/2019

George Webb is the next Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s candidate we report on.

Here are Webb’s significant (over $1000) contributors:

Sidney Billberry – $1,000
Blades Electric – $1,500
Cooper Welding – $2,500
Lloyd Grafton – $1,000
Lowell Oxford – $1,000
Ruston Maintenance Services – $1,000
Ponchatoula’s – $1,000

Webb donated $1,500 to his own campaign. Oxford also donated $1,450 for NRA banquet tickets.

Significant expenditures include the Decal Shop and Low Tritt for signs and campaign management, respectively.

Here is the complete report.

Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Race – The Money

09/14/2019

This is the first of three reports on contributions and expenditures for the upcoming election for Lincoln Parish Sheriff.

Today, we have Randall Hermes‘ report that was filed on 9/12/2019.

Among the significant (over $1,000) contributors:

Marie Braswell – $1,000
Tommy J. Folk – $1,500
Margaret Hoogland – $2,500
Michael A. Jones – $1,500

There were two in-kind contributions:

Don Cochran: $1,400
Driggers Outdoor: $1,109

Hermes has loaned his campaign $21,950

Two Monroe companies, M. R. S. and Quest Comm Consultants, are his largest expenditures. They have provided mail outs and political consulting.

See here the complete report.

Lincoln Parish Burn Ban

09/09/2019

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 9, 2019

CONTACT: Chief Kevin Reynolds
(318) 255-1055

TEMPORARY BAN ON OPEN-AIR OUTDOOR BURNING

The Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 has issued an emergency order banning all open-air outdoor burning effective immediately. This bum ban coincides with Lincoln Parish Police Jury Ordinance No. 276-06-(1) which authorizes Commissioners of Fire Protection District No. 1 of Lincoln Parish to impose a temporary ban on open-air outdoor burning within said district.

Due to the extremely dry conditions presently existing in Lincoln Parish, rural areas, woodlands, and forests are subject to fire. Anyone found to be violating this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine not to exceed
$500 dollars, together with all costs of court, or a jail sentence not to exceed six months, or both.

This ban will remain in effect until lifted by the Commissioners of Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1. Anyone having questions concerning this matter should contact this office at the number listed above.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

09/08/2019

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, September 10, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

The Finance Committee will meet at 6:00 PM to discuss funding requests from various parish agencies for budget year 2020.

Here are the requests.
Here’s the agenda.

At 6:45 PM, the Public Works Committee will meet.

Here’s the agenda.

The full jury will meet at 7:00 PM.

Here’s the agenda.

The jury will convene as the Board of Review for 2019 tax assessments. Also, the jury will hear a report on budget-to-actual finances for 2019.

Here’s the document.

Reprint of 12/14/18 LPSB News Article

09/07/2019

Since the issue of School Resource Officers (SRO) funding has resurfaced in connection with a proposed school board 1/2 cent sales tax, we thought we would re-run a news article from last December that sheds some light on the issue.

Someone’s Not Being Truthful about Lincoln Parish School Resource Officers

There are questions regarding the Lincoln Parish School Resource Officers (SRO) Program that need to be answered prior to any vote for additional taxes.

Specifically, taxpayers need to know which of the district’s schools now have an SRO assigned to them, and what agency has ownership of the program.

Here’s what’s posted on the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s website:

School Resource Officer

Deputies in the Juvenile Division are certified as an SRO. Deputies are assigned a school that they work at to provide security and safety for the students, faculty and staff. The SRO’s work during the school day as well as school sponsored events. The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office currently has SRO’s assigned to all parish schools from Elementary to High School.

From Sheriff Mike Stone’s 4/8/15 re-election announcement:

“We’ve always been prudent and good stewards of the public’s money,” Stone said. “From putting School Resource Officers in our schools to adding an elderly protection officer and implementing the ‘How are You’ program to check on our seniors, we’ve been able to offer the services that help make Lincoln Parish a safe environment to live, work and raise families.”

In a 1/27/12 press release asking voters to approve a 1/4 cent sales tax increase, Stone said this:

“When we took office eight years ago, we promised several things,” Stone said. “More patrol and visibility on the street, adding an additional investigator, strengthening our drug interdiction (LPNET) and elderly protection (TRIAD) programs, putting an SRO officer in every school, improving litter abatement and animal control, and adding special patrol deputies (SCAT and CAP).”

“We feel we’ve delivered on our promises and have been good stewards of the public’s money, and we ask for your trust that we will continue to do so.”

It is clear that Stone has claimed ownership of the School Resource Officer program ever since he’s been in office. Nothing has ever been said by the Sheriff’s Office that indicates the school district should pay for the program.

But at last week’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board, District Superintendent Mike Milstead said that only half the district’s schools had SROs assigned to them, and that the additional officers would have to be paid for by a new property tax.

Said Milstead, “One of the main components, and the original main thrust of this was for the safety of our children. Every one of our schools should have a School Resource Officer. Right now, thanks to the generosity of the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Department and a grant they have, seven of the schools have full-time School Resource Officers. But that means seven do not. We as a district need to everything we can to make it possible for our kids to have a safe learning environment.”

Clearly, Milstead is claiming that the primary need for new taxes is based on the safety of schoolchildren.

So which is it?

Do all Lincoln Parish Schools have SROs, or not? Or has Stone not fulfilled his promises to protect “all parish schools from Elementary to High School?”

And, if the cost of the SRO program must now be borne by the school district, when did that shift occur? Stone indicated in 2012 that part of the reason for a new tax was to help pay for the SRO program.

Or is the children safety issue being used to frighten taxpayers into supporting another tax increase, while most of the money goes elsewhere?

Ruston Board of Aldermen Monday

09/06/2019

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, September 9, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

There are a couple of notable items.

A budget amendment will be proposed for the 10/1/18-9/30/19 budget year that is about to end. That amendment will siphon $400 thousand from the general fund into the Sports Complex operating budget.

Those monies will be used to cover a $360 thousand deficit that is projected for the department this budget year.

See here the budget document.

Also, a resolution to award a Construction Manager At Risk (CMAR) contract to Lincoln Builders for Phase II of the Sports Complex.

The contract will have a “guaranteed maximum price,” but that figure is not disclosed in the resolution. The CMAR process allows awarding of certain construction contracts without bidding.

See here the proposed resolution.

New 1/2¢ Sales Tax to pay for 6% Teacher Pay Raise

09/04/2019

A new parish-wide 1/2¢ sales tax will be proposed at the Tuesday 10/1/19 meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

That tax would fund a $3000/yr pay raise for teachers, and a $1500 pay raise for support personnel. That amounts to about a 6% raise, incoming school district Business Manager Juanita Duke said at last night’s meeting.

Earlier this year, the legislature approved a $1000/$500 boost for teachers and support personnel. It went into effect July 1.

A public meeting will be held at the October meeting, and a board vote on whether to call a May, 2020 election will also take place. It the tax passes, the combined rate of sales tax for certain business in Ruston (hotel/restaurant) would be 12.3%.

In response to our questions, retiring Business Manager George Murphy said cost of the pay raises amounted to a little over half the $4.7 million the levy would be expected to take from taxpayers.

What the rest of the money would go toward hasn’t been determined yet, Murphy added.

“Under consideration are SRO (school resource) officers and potentially more money to put into the health care plan. But that has not been finalized, we don’t have anything on a piece of paper. But we will have it soon.”

Any monies allocated to the health care plan would also benefit district employees by offsetting possible premium increases.

None of the board members had any questions or comments about the proposed tax.

Earlier, the board’s finance committee met and recommended the the budget for the upcoming year.

For the year 7/1/2019-6/30/2020, revenues are projected to be $74.6 million, and expenditures are forecast to be $76.2 million.

The full board ratified the committee’s recommendation.

School Board to Call Tax Vote for Next May

09/02/2019

Tomorrow evening, the Lincoln Parish School Board will be asked to consider this:

Notice is hereby given that at its meeting to be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Parish School Board Office, 410 S. Farmerville Street, Ruston, Louisiana, the Parish School Board of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana, plans to consider adopting a resolution ordering and calling an election to be held in the Parish of Lincoln to authorize the levy of a sales and use tax.

It is unclear at this time if this is a new tax, or re-imposition of an expiring tax.

Here is the complete memo.

Tomorrow’s meeting will consist of a 5:45 PM Finance Committee and the regular board meeting at 6:00 PM.

Finance Committee agenda
School Board agenda

The meeting will be held at the new STEM Center, 525 Tarbutton Road, adjacent to Ruston Junior High.

More on Ruston Budgets

08/29/2019

Here are a couple more budgets for the City of Ruston

Capital Projects

Spending on street improvement projects will be sharply curtailed for FY2020. Only $500 thousand is budgeted, compared to $1.0 million in 2017, $2.67 million in 2018, and $2.37 million in 2019.

This will likely further delay one of the major projects of the 2015 Moving Ruston Forward plan – widening of Kentucky Avenue from US 167 to Farmerville Hwy. Originally estimated at $15 million, the bulk of the project remains uncompleted.

The bridge over Colvin Creek was widened in 2015, and clearing and grubbing on the segment from Cedar Creek Road east to Farmerville Hwy was approved in 2018. Underground utilities on that segment were also installed.

See here the Capital Expenditure Budget.

Collection Department

This department hasn’t economized at all over the past three years. In FY2017, the department spent $733,591. For FY2020, Spending is projected to be $1,061,420.

Most of the increase is in the personnel category.

In FY2017, $525,854 was spent, and for 2020 that figure is budgeted at $881,770.

See here the budget.

Here is the complete budget document as presented to the Board of Aldermen last week.