Mayor Changes Council Meeting Format

Claiming advice from the City Attorney, Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said at last night’s meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen that he would no longer answer questions from the floor during public discussion. Comments would be allowed, but no questions would be answered, he said.

Said Walker, “Over the last few years of my administration, I have allowed people to ask questions, and I’m constantly reminded by our legal counsel that we are not supposed to do that – that is a comment. So, it will be comments in the future under my administration.

“My cell number is 278-9701 – I think everybody in the city probably has that. Our department heads and myself are always available to answer questions before the city council meetings, afterwards, or during the month, either way. Please understand that when we get to those times it is comments only.”

We have a definitive answer on what taxes are underwriting the proposed $20 million borrowing that the city is proposing.

BOTH the 1.75% sales tax enacted late last year by the council, AND the 3/4 cent sales tax approved in 2016 will be used to pay off the debt and interest.

City Treasurer Laura Hartt said in her report that:

“This resolution authorizes Economic Development District No 1 of the City of Ruston to proceed with obtaining approval from (LA State) Bond Commission to issue the $20 million of sales tax revenue bonds for a term of 10 years, which will be secured by the 1.75 sales tax that was recently authorized to be levied and collected within this district.

“Because this is a new sales tax levy with no history of collections, the bond will be secured additionally by a portion of the 2016 3/4 cent sales tax.

“The stated purpose of the bonds is to pay the cost of any economic development project located within the district, including without limitation, public works and infrastructure projects to promote economic development in the district.

“Specifically, the funds will be used to expand the Ruston Sports Complex to include a splash pad, senior center, and indoor sports facility as previously discussed.”

In response to a comment from Ruston resident Mike Froelich, Walker said that the 10 year/$20 million term of the bond matched the expected revenue from the 1.75% restaurant/hotel sales tax over that same time period.

Alederman Jim Pearce asked if the total $20 million would be borrowed. Hartt said, “Correct. The bond paperwork reads that way because that’s what the tax would bear. It doesn’t mean we have to spend that much or go for that much.”

“But we could do a lesser amount?” asked Pearce.

Said Walker, “Yes.”

When the plan was first revealed last September, Walker said the tax would collect $1.75 million/year from dining patrons and hotel guests. Over ten years, that would amount to $17.5 million, not the $20 million figure claimed last night.

The resolution applying for bond commission approval was passed unanimously. The accompanying ordinance was introduced, and will be up for final approval at the next council meeting.

The council also approved a resolution approving property acquisition adjacent to the Ruston Airport.

Plans are to extend the runway, necessitating relocation of LA Hwy 146. The property purchases are for the highway’s right-of-way.

Pearce asked if the funding was from the Federal Aviation Administration, to which Assistant Public Works Director John Freeman said the airport expansion was funded by the FAA and the Louisiana Department of Transportation, but the road relocation was a City of Ruston capital project.

Asked how much, Freeman said that was estimated to be $2 million. Walker said that about $5 million was budgeted each year for capital projects.

3 Responses to “Mayor Changes Council Meeting Format”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Where you at LL? This news story should be red meat for you. But you will be surprised that I don’t agree with the mayor not taking an open forum at the meeting, but I have to admit, it was pretty damn brave of Walker to put his cell number out there for phone calls. Please take my advice and just call him with your concerns…. I’m still pulling for you LL! πŸ‘‹πŸ»

  2. Anonymous Says:


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