So Where’s the Rest of that Ruston Hotel/Restaurant/Theater Tax Money Going?

One of the things learned at last Monday’s meeting of the Ruston City Council is that the proposed new sales/bed tax on local hotels, restaurants, and theaters is expected to collect about $1.75 million year from customers.

That money, Walker said, was to be used for construction of a senior/VA center, gymnasiums, and some sort of water park, to be built at the Sports Complex on South Farmerville. He also said bonds would be issued (a loan), and then paid back over time from the sales/bed tax income stream.

We can estimate costs from recent construction projects in the Lincoln Parish School District.

The Ruston High School Pep Squad building cost about a million dollars. So if Ruston builds three gymnasiums, triple that, to $3 million.

The Jimmy “Chick” Childress Field House cost about $3 million. A building of that size would be quite adequate for a senior/VA center.

For another three or four million, you should be able to build a first-class water park.

So that puts us up to around $10 million, not an insignificant amount of money. If that money is borrowed, we need to see what the payments will be.

Last year, the city borrowed $34 million at 3% for 17 years. We find those figures on page 52 of the city’s 9/30/17 audit.

We probably should assume the interest rate is a bit more than last year, so we’ll calculate $10 million at 3 1/2% for 17 years.

The annual amount that must be repaid is about $780 thousand/year.

See here the calculations.

That’s less than half the money that the proposed tax will collect. Where will the other million dollars/year go?

96 Responses to “So Where’s the Rest of that Ruston Hotel/Restaurant/Theater Tax Money Going?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Somebody got some splainin’ to do. It won’t happen at town hall meetings either. It’s a snow job. Wake up Ruston and fight this. The ” south side ” doesn’t need or care about a water park. But Walker trying to get money for his sports complex because city is in debt.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    He has been scrambling for monies for the past year. Just ask the treasurer. Oh wait, treasurer was hand-picked by the mayor.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I talked to a private developer that’s building a similar 3 basketball court project that can convert for volleyball use in another state (without the pool or senior center). He said the cost of his project is around $7.5 to $8 million including equipment. That might be a little high due to infrastructure construction such as parking lot and cost being higher, but it’s a good starting point. If anything, $10 million might be low once you add the pool/mini-mini-mini-waterpark and senior center.

    • Anonymous Says:

      And we all know that the water park and senior center are not Walker’s motives. It’s a smoke screen. He’s scrambling to find money for sports complex since he promised it and spent $ elsewhere .

  4. Anonymous Says:

    You must hire staff to maintain and operate those facilities, something the School Board did not have to do.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Have you noticed that you don’t ever hear any comments from City’s attorneys. Guess they just do what they are told too.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    That’s the word on the streets.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I can’t understand why the council members and those in a place to advise (dept heads, city attorney, financial advisors) have fallen for mayor’s “do it my way” philosophy. Look how many families have been affected by the underhanded and belligerent way he has terminated folks. And there will be others. He has destroyed lives, made present employees nervous about their future and placed the City in financial jeopardy. The so-called department heads don’t speak up or they could be next. Why is this happening?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Can someone please tell me who all Walker has fired? Reading all this y’all make it sound like he fires people for the hell of it. Just curious as to how many people have lost their job.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would go along with meanness. There is a right way and wrong way to do things. Certainly things have NOT been handled in a professional way and in keeping with policy.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    We recognize that is a personal matter. However, one does affect the other.

    • Anonymous Says:

      And the city deserves to know. Especially since so much chaos running through city hall currently. Many lives destroyed.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Bill Carter is such a disappointment! He is just a paper shuffler. Making a dollar at the expense of the city.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    City attorney has done a good job in past administration. To stand up to mayor would mean his ousting. But it does make you feel disappointed that he goes along with all the shit.

    • Anonymous Says:

      So many people agree with this statement. The general public and many previous ( not by their choice but by Walker’s ) and present city employees. He’s created a city hall full of thirty somethings and lost the clarity to see what he discarded . Financially it’s hitting the fan.

      • Anonymous Says:

        The city wasn’t going anywhere with a city hall full of gray hairs. What’s wrong with hiring smart, young and talented professionals that have been groomed right here in Ruston at Louisiana Tech? Some who could probably leave and get better jobs elsewhere but chose to stay in Ruston because they love the town.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    But they got the job done, followed rules, Laurason Act and Louisiana Laws, handled business in a fair and equitable manner to all citizens and businesses alike. The city finances were in much better shape. Morale among employees was high. How dare you say a city hall full of gray hairs kept the City from going nowhere? Is that discrimination??? It’s a bunch of bull for sure and will all come back to bite you! And if not all, most of the “smart young and talented professionals” were handpicked – some chosen before the employee was booted out. What happened to job postings? That is almost a thing of the past. Most new hires were part of mayor’s campaign promise program. And that’s another sorted story altogether.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Obviously one of his new short skirts wrote the gray hair comment. Proves the point they lack maturity and the smarts and experience. They also need glasses since they don’t realize Walker has gray hair.

    • Anonymous Says:

      First it’s the Lawrason Act go check out https://www.lma.org/docs/Publications/Lawrson_Act_PowerPoint_2014.pdf

      This will give you some insight into what the Lawrason Act really is and means.

      Second when you described what a by the books executive our previous Mayor was maybe you should ask how it was he spent almost a million dollars of taxpayers money sprucing up Rail Road Park on his way out the door without ever taking the first bid.

      When you describe the morale of all the City employees as being high during the past administration and how the current Mayor fires folks without cause. I guess your unaware the previous Mayor lacked the personal courage to do his own dirty work so he had Ed Pittman do it for him. The tales of Mr Pittman’s hiring and firing practices could fill this entire page. I promise you current City employees feared ole Ed way more than Mayor Walker.

      • Anonymous Says:

        That’s a matter of opinion. And certainly not that of the majority! Just shows your true colors.

        • Anonymous Says:

          We think you need to re-read the law. Skipping over the facts doesn’t give you the whole picture.

      • Anonymous Says:

        You should re-read the whole thing…and Louisiana Law.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Bottom line: City government is the trustee of the taxpayers monies. Must have leadership with experience, integrity, and with high moral fiber. Anything less is NOT what the people need in the office of mayor. If folks don’t speak out, especially about City finances and the poor treatment of hard working men and women, then you can expect more of the same. If you don’t speak out against, then you can’t grumble.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Speaking of short skirts and in light of the recent debacle with alleged “skeletons” in the closet of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh, it is a wonder that the skeletons in Walker’s closet never surfaced while campaigning or since then. But then again, that might why he uses his senior citizen discount on the clearance racks at Dillards.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Many of us never knew about his skeletons until after he was elected. Small towns don’t have vetting process. But gradually we are all finding out. Especially since he started discarding city employees. Most that have been discarded weren’t ” gray hairs ” like HE is too! They looked good!

    • Anonymous Says:

      Those to things have nothing to do with one another except maybe to demonstrate that he is frugal with his money.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Will the person who wrote “the city wasn’t going anywhere with a city hall full of gray hairs” please come forward. Sounds like a case for age discrimination. Reckon it is the same short skirt that said folks were being fired because they “did bad things.” There’s a name for doing that and it can’t be repeated.

    • Anonymous Says:

      The one that has a gray haired husband? But isn’t old? That’s funny.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Several that were discarded have potential age discrimination cause. Especially since they were told no reason had to be given.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Louisiana is an at will state; however, disposing of hard working individuals “at will” and stating that “he doesn’t have to give a reason” is NOT common decency.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I would be willing to bet you that almost every man or woman who has been let go knows exactly what they did or didn’t do that brought about their departure. It’s way easier to get on here anonymously blast someone else than to admit what you did.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    And I repeat: NOT COMMON DECENCY!

  18. Anonymous Says:

    I can assure you that the anonymous audience includes a much broader reach than the few disgruntled employees. And who cares what they did, if anything. It’s a done deal. Sounds like mayor is trying to focus on the wrong thing. Maybe he should take a look in the mirror. Maybe he is even trying to get folks to think about things other than the new taxes he is trying to get passed. Get them approved and then he will spend the money like he wishes. All-powerful one.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    You hit the nail on the head…..that’s exactly what will happen.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    If taxes are approved, Mayor will spend the monies on whatever project he wishes. That’s why he is scrambling – gross overspending in all City funds. And once it is a done deal, it is too late.

    • Anonymous Says:

      All over Ruston it’s being discussed. In restaurants and bars. The very places he wants people to pay MORE taxes on. The places they eat and drink. Not going to happen. He’s upset the larger group now.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Just today, at a coffee shop, I heard somebody comment about how much the coffee will cost if the new tax is approved. And, If the additional tax plan passes, more and more folks will be going out of town to eat out and make purchases. Maybe mayor should have thought of that before he overextended the City’s ability to pay for new projects and resorted to additional taxes.

    • Techdad Says:

      To tax hotels when many parents of Tech students frequent them is awful. We would rather stay in Monroe to prove a point when visiting.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    Just add up the total taxes for visitors to our City on game day: hotel stay; visit to Walmart and grocery store; meals, gas. Now, figure the additional taxes for our citizens – will be a real burden.

    Didn’t have to be this way. Project could have been planned more carefully, budgeted and completed without hurting taxpayers who are bound to have a sour taste in their mouths. Mayor was hell-bent on getting that sports complex now – not plan for the future. Just so he could have the World Series games here….stars for his cap.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    And 2019 is looming…..

    • Anonymous Says:

      Yes sports complex was supposed to be completed by January 2019. Four months from now. This is why Walker scrambling for funds.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    Wonder how long Womack & Sons will hold fort in the church building originally purchased by the City to house the RPAR offices? Same contractor was pulled from the Rough Edge Road Project to work on the sports complex. Heard a few days ago that very soon the parks and rec as we know it will be placed under the sports complex umbrella along with facility rentals (civic center, historic fire station, etc.) Will be interesting to hear what they plan to do with the handful of employees left at the RPAR offices on James Street. Will be a terrible shame if those folks’ jobs are eliminated. You know they will be hiring several to handle the sports complex with all the additional responsibilities that will entail. They have already hired a director for the complex, handpicked by the mayor, so I’m sure there will be other high dollar salaries to go along with all the glam.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Walker is terminating all RPAR employees

    • Anonymous Says:

      Did tax assessor figure out why no taxes paid by city on building Womack & Sons using?

      • Anonymous Says:

        She charge them for that building plus several hangers at the airport

        • Anonymous Says:

          Maybe the city treasurer conveniently let something else fall through the cracks? Tax bills probably got put in a pile under her desk.

          • Anonymous Says:

            Because mayor handpicked her?

            • Anonymous Says:

              She prepped for the position by attending council meetings several months BEFORE mayor announced there would be a vacancy. Thought she was just being a good citizen.

        • Anonymous Says:

          If City is receiving rental fees from people renting the church building and hangars, should they be assessed a taxes? Isn’t Womack supposed to be paying a monthly rental fee? Can that fee be accounted for? There are at least 10 T-hangars and several other hangars.

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Terminating or restructuring?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Terminating. I’m sure he would like public to think it’s restructuring. But he when he tells us we won’t have jobs by April that’s terminating.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    I guess you are right about that. At the very least, he should have offered positions at the sports complex. I don’t understand why the Council goes along with this lunacy. I guess because he tells them one thing and others something else. I’m sure council has never seen him pitch his little belligerent fits. Now he blames everything on disgruntled employees. I’ve talked to a couple of terminated folks and their despair at the way he handled the situations was great. And by the way,no need to waste your time calling them. They have been brainwashed.

    • Anonymous Says:

      Council has no courage to stand up against him. City is paying price. When Walker is gone & blames everyone but himself what will council say?

      • Disgustedcitizen Says:

        Council quiet because they all gave themselves big raises recently. Who does that when city in debt? And a mayor gives himself $20,000 extra?

  27. Anonymous Says:

    If you knew the whole truth, you would really be disgusted. Speaking about raises, not sure what percentage rate employees were raised but they did get one to whitewash the rumors of their low morale (afraid for their jobs) and to keep them from grumbling. I applaud the raise to city employees – dedicated hardworking men and women making a living for their families and who have been with city for years and make things happen. Even with raises, many still make far less than they should in comparison to the high paid positions of mayor’s handpicked ones. Take a look. Ask some questions. You would be shocked.

    • Anonymous Says:

      True he eliminated many positions only to use those salaries to pay the short skirts quite well.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Started them out making at least double what eliminated ones made that were doing their jobs. And new hires knew nothing about the city government system which is not run like banking or otherwise private business. By the way, Employee Handbook which is a guideline for all city employees, was changed to suit the mayor’s agenda for “eliminating” positions. Before the revisions, certain criteria had to be followed in the matter of employee reprimand or termination including but not limited to report to supervisor, supervisor discuss with employee (counseling), write-up/reprimand, termination if deemed necessary. But Handbook was conveniently changed to eliminate the supervisor altogether so mayor didn’t have to give a reason. What a mess!

    • Anonymous Says:

      As he created new positions and eliminated old ones he also has frantically tried to find new ways to find money for sports complex. Taxes etc. So why did he pay these new hires so much?

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Campaign promises. Look at the Secretary of State site/Louisiana Ethics Board and look for required reports filed by all elected officials for campaign contributions and expenses. Take a look at who made contributions and how much. Take a look at expenses listed which include his contributions to local churches and area organizations. Do you see any to the larger churches in our city like FBC, Temple, Trinity, etc.? Many who helped put him in office were promised something in return like a job, low or no rental rates, upgraded infrastructure. Now you tell me if that is right? I say no!

  30. Anonymous Says:

    Wonder why he just made donations to certain churches and certain organizations, one being NAACP-Shreveport? Look for yourself!

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Doesn’t hardly seem fair, does it? Supposed to be mayor of City – not just for a select few.

    • Anonymous Says:

      He proved within a short time he’s not a mayor. He’s power hungry. People didn’t matter. He promised many he was keeping them after he was elected. Look now and they are gone because he decided he was done with them. Used them up and threw them away. Cold hearted.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    He refused use of the civic center for fund raiser for VFW home. Wonder how many times the NAACP has used the civic center for nothing or at a big discount?

  33. Anonymous Says:

    Encouraging taxpayers to attend the town hall meeting at the Historic Fire Station tonight (9/24) at 5:30 to hear more about the proposed tax district. Council needs to hear that WE DON’T WANT ANY MORE TAXES – period. Don’t be fooled by mayor any longer.

    • Ms H Says:

      Make sure its recorded because he tends to say one thing and do another. Hold him accountable for once.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Yes ask hard questions and watch him squirm. Ask him how many employees he has terminated or forced to retire since he’s been mayor. Ask him a specific number. It’s huge. Ask him why he said he didn’t owe them a reason. Ask him how many positions he promised to friends during campaign. Ask about city debt and funds being juggled to pay for sports complex. Then tell him we don’t want new taxes and refuse to eat or stay in hotels should this happen in Ruston. Will just spend our money in Monroe or Shreveport. Mayor is only a big city wannabe. Leave Ruston alone. If we want that we drive to bigger cities anyway.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    And if he turns on the waterworks, that is a tactic he uses when in a bind.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    It is. It’s a tactic don’t you know.

  36. Anonymous Says:

    We attended the town hall meeting tonight which had a sparse crowd in attendance. Not that many questions for which I’m not surprised. Mayor did most of the talking. Meeting was recorded so we will see if mayor keeps his word pending passage of this nonsense, of course. Ms. H. said to hold him accountable. Gathering information to do just that. There’s another meeting tomorrow night at 6:30, historic fire station. See you there, I hope.

    • Anonymous Says:

      We will be there! With notes & expecting accountability. Tired of crap. Want Ruston to be what it used to be. Keep your personal probs st home mayor.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    So are all the restaraunts on board for the new tax?

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Hard to tell. They don’t hardly have a choice, now, do they? The only thing for sure is the prices, they are going up, up, up.

  39. Anonymous Says:

    I think it’s a done deal. The Council and Mayor don’t care. Some business owners are afraid to speak up. The big winners will be hotels. Look at who those owners are!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    Most folks are afraid to speak up – afraid of retaliation. But one day,he will trip up. Guess who will have to pay the debt? Those who would not speak up in opposition to more taxes.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    He is already getting his stories mixed up and it has caught up with him on some levels. The same will be true with his professional choices. Just give it time.

  42. Anonymous Says:

    But at the expense of taxpayers?

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