Letter to the Editor

The following is a letter emailed to Ruston’s Board of Alderman dated Oct. 8 that was requested to also be published as a Letter to the Editor.

Ms. Carolyn Cage – Ward 1, Ruston, Louisiana; 243-2492
Ms. Angela Mayfield – Ward 2, Ruston, Louisiana; 243-0998
Mr. Jedd Lewis – Ward 3, Ruston, Louisiana; 548-1036
Mr. Jim Pearce – Ward 4, Ruston, Louisiana; 548-9422
Mr. Bruce Siegmund – Ward 5, Ruston, Louisiana; 614-4352

I am OPPOSED to the SALES TAX ORDINANCE proposal to be voted on by the Ruston City Council at the Nov. 5 regular meeting.

I attended local primary and secondary schools, and have an accounting degree from LA Tech. I was born in Ruston, and here is where I chose to live, work and raise my family. I vote at Hillcrest School and Jedd Lewis is my elected alderman. I have tried to personally contact all five aldermen or alderwomen to discuss this issue. I thank each of you for the time and courtesy each of you has shown me. If we’ve not talked yet, hopefully, we will before the November meeting.

I am OPPOSED to the Sales Tax Ordinance for the following reasons:

1. As a matter of personal belief, I think the voting citizens of the tax district should vote on taxes for this, or any other taxes that would be used as funding for the city’s recreational infrastructure. I don’t think that the citizens should be taxed without an opportunity to vote on the projected use. The taxpayers did not elect the aldermen to impose these taxes. The taxpayers may desire to wait on the recreational development or not desire to proceed at all; nevertheless, the taxpayers deserve a vote, rather than having this tax and projects being forced down their throats.

2. I believe that a full accounting should be given to the citizens of Ruston on the construction progress and expended / committed cost for the MRF projects. I and most other citizens are aware that most of the projects in the MRF have had serious overruns; in particular, the recreational projects now under construction. How much of the 3/4 cent sales tax funding, savings in maintenance and revenue synergies has been committed? Many citizens have concerns that the budget for MRF has been exceeded and additional funding sources are needed to save face.

3. The tax is being implemented as a sales tax increment financing under RS 33:9038.31 et seq. That law was enacted for funding of economic (industrial) development projects. The funds from this tax are proposed — according to the mayor at the recent town hall meeting — for recreational infrastructure rather than economic or industrial development projects. This is a legal high jacking of a law intended for funding economic development projects, and a means to bypass the requirement for a tax referendum by the voters. In my opinion, implementing the sales tax and the proposed additions to the recreational complex by this method is wrong.

4. The recreational projects to be financed by this proposed tax are designated as Phase II of the Sports Complex, yet Phase I has not been completed at this time. With solid budget control and sound estimating, perhaps some of the projected Phase II financial needs could be met from savings on Phase I construction. This would negate the need for imposition of the sales tax. Construction estimates for the projects based on “guesstimates” (mayor’s term) don’t meet the standards of best business practices. It is reckless, and shows disrespect for taxpayer money.

5. If, the recreational complex will be such a success (as the mayor has said), we will not need this additional tax revenue for Phase II of the recreational complex.

6. The proposed Phase II projects (senior center, veterans facility, splash pad and pool) are projects that are mutually exclusive and none of them are required for the successful completion and operation of the Phase I facilities. In other words, each of the Phase II features could be delayed and paid out of the income generated from the Phase I features.

7. The added maintenance and operational cost of the project features need to be reasonably forecast. Little mention was made regarding this item at the Old Fire Station meeting. How is this to be paid for? Both Phase I and Phase II of the complex will add serious maintenance and operational cost items to the budget.

8. Our mayor is an excellent salesman for the city, as evidenced by the Town Hall Meeting at the Old Fire Station recently, and the support he has generated for his projects. BUT, I ask that each of you stop and consider some serious questions about the financial wellbeing of our city without any influence from the administration. I submit to you the following:

a. The budget expenses have increased during the first four years of the Walker administration by about ten (10) percent. The 2014 budget of $66 million — the last year of the Hollingsworth administration — increased to about $77 million in 2018, the most recent year of the Walker administration.

b. The bonded indebtedness has increased during the first four years of the Walker administration by over 400 percent. The total principal and interest owed increased from $25 million in 2014 to about $112 million in 2018, the most recent year of the Walker administration.

c. The contingent liability for the Monster Moto Facility will soon (Jan. 1, 2019) be the responsibility of the City of Ruston as they are the guarantors of the bonds for the facilities. Granted the mayor recently has said to me, “…we have two possible companies to take their place and beside they will not be out until the end of the year.” The citizens are concerned, are you? The aldermen are responsible for the budget and its financial soundness and should be good stewards of the financial condition of this city.

d. Finally, cash flows from funding and revenue sources are not aligned or synchronized with the expense requirements for the MRF projects. The 3/4 cent sales tax allowed for approximately $40 million dollars in bonds to be issued, and an annual $1.2 million per year above the requirement for bond amortization. It is easy to see if you underestimate costs (sports complex), the needed fund will not be available for completion of all of the other MRF projects. This shortfall in available funds, demands the need for other revenue source such as a new tax (1.75 percent sales tax for Phase II), or a significant reduction in cash reserves from other accounts, either enterprise or general fund. We need adequate planning, accurate cost estimates, bidding discipline, and firm project management.

I hope each of you will consider the above items that I have highlighted and consider voting to defeat the proposed ordinance and submit the questions for further study and review.

I will see you at the Nov. 5 meeting.

James Fuller

22 Responses to “Letter to the Editor”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    When will Ruston build their bullet train to nowhere? Or is this it?

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Amen to everything James Fuller said! Now, tax payers, what do you say? Stop the madness or waller in it? Your choice.

    • Anonymous Says:

      James Fuller for mayor! He’s our hero and maybe the public will finally see what has been hidden.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t agree that Walker is “an excellent salesman” for the city. He is a salesman – but one who lacks integrity. In other words, he is a liar who talks out of both sides of his mouth. He is NOT a good steward of taxoayer’s money.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Rumor is Mayor requested that RDL not print Mr Fullers letter , so much for free press and informed public

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Mayor handpicked the treasurer to replace one who knew what was going on and asked too many questions. The new woman was there to do mayor’s bidding – and did. For Heaven’s sake, the man had legislative auditor experience. Accounts were stable and audits were clean every year. Why get rid of him unless he didn’t agree on new tactics? Then mayor got rid of controller who was a CPA. She saw mayor demanding money be moved from one account to another. Her hands were tied by the mayor and new treasurer. She knew too much. People, I tell you the truth!

    • Anonymous Says:

      Walker’s games are out in public and seen now. So glad Fuller had guts to write letter.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    It doesn’t matter, since the Alderman have made up their mind.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Does the board of aldermen not know that they will go down in history as a council who refused to go against mayor, even when deep down, they knew it wasn’t right. Oh for the days of Alderman Elmore Mayfield who would not have stood for all this mess. What say ye, Angela? Your dad would be standing strong for what it right. The mayor has you all fooled.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I was involved in discussing an ordinance change with one of your alderman. I shit you not that he said that he was ok with whatever the mayor wanted to do.

      We got a good laugh about your representation in Ruston.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Must have been Jedd Lewis! Go figure??

        • Anonymous Says:

          There again, it could have been Jim Pearce or Bruce Siegmund or Carolyn Cage or Angela Mayfield. All are ALWAYS “educated” by the mayor prior to the council meetings and basically told how it will go. You don’t ever see any of them ask a bunch of questions at the meetings unless it is on a local property condemnation matter. Never! Go figure??

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Do you mean they have been brainwashed?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    How much has Pearce Lumber made off or will make on all these projects? It’s easy to vote no if the Mayor already has enough votes to pass the proposal. Happens all the time in the Legislature.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    i imagine a pretty penny!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    James Fuller is our hero. He had the guts to say what even our council members won’t say.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you James Fuller and those who are listening.

  13. RavenMad Says:

    Hear, hear…

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  15. Ona tražI njega varaždin Says:

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