Archive for July, 2019

Downtown Ruston Traffic to Be Disrupted this Weekend

07/16/2019

http://wwwapps.dotd.la.gov/administration/announcements/announcement.aspx?key=20352

US 167 North (Vienna St), Ruston- Lincoln Parish at the railroad grade crossing
To be closed to all vehicular traffic on, Saturday, July 20, at 6am to Monday, July 22 at 7pm. The closure is for Kansas City Southern Railroad and CW&W to perform track maintenance
Detour:
The following detour route:
US 80 (W California), LA 544 (Tech Dr), LA 150 (W Alabama)

Restrictions:
Closed to all vehicular traffic.

Safety Reminder:
DOTD appreciates your patience and reminds you to please drive with caution through the construction site and be on the lookout for work crews and their equipment.

Contact Persons:
Freddy Snow
LA DOTD – District 05 Railroad Coordinator/Permits
P.O. Box 4068
Monroe, LA 71211
Phone: (318) 342-0121
Fax: (318) 342-0260

Additional Information:
Call (318) 561-5100 or (800) 542-3509 or 511 or visit http://www.511LA.org for additional information. Motorists may also monitor the LA DOTD website @ http://www.dotd.la.gov, the DOTD Facebook page or the LA DOTD Twitter page, @cenlatraffic for further information.

Changes Contemplated for Lincoln School District Retiree’s Health Plan

07/11/2019

Changes to the health plan for Lincoln Parish School District retirees is being contemplated, it was said at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Said District Superintendent Mike Milstead, “The plan basically saves us anywhere from $800 thousand to a million dollars a year. It increases the coverage for the retirees. Their out of pocket will go from $5000 to $1000.”

He added, “Retirees who presently pay a zero premium every month – their spouses pay some – we want for that to continue.”

Further details will be forthcoming and a detailed plan will be presented at the August board meeting, Milstead said.

He noted that if no changes are made, by 2027 the cost of medical insurance for retirees would be increase to $16 million from today’s cost of $10 million.

Milstead also said that in order to get the budget in line, personnel reductions had been effected, all through attrition.

Twenty certified and thirty-three non-certified employee have left, either through resignations or retirement.

Letter to the Editor from Sheila Bordelon

07/10/2019

Lincoln Library Millage Set to Increase

07/10/2019

Though no vote was taken at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), the consensus of the body was that the property tax millage that funds the Lincoln Parish Library should be increased for the 2019 tax year to 4.65 mils, from the 2018 rate of 3.2 mils. The present millage collects about $1.5 million/year, while the 4.65 rate will collect about $2.26 million/year, according to Parish Treasurer Holly Lowry.

The rate will be formally proposed at the August meeting of the jury, and a public hearing will precede the vote. Other millages will remain at 2018 levels, Parish Administrator Courtney Hall said.

See here the complete list.

The issue generated quite a bit of discussion, and to fully understand, some background is necessary.

In the fall, 2010 tax election, a 5.99 mil library tax was approved by Lincoln Parish voters. That tax will expire next year, and will be resubmitted for voter approval. The first year after the election, it collected about $2 million, roughly in line with library expenditures.

As the parish added more taxable property, and with reassessments, a fund surplus developed. In 2014, the jury decided to trim the millage to try and keep income in line with expenditures.

In 2017 and 2018, it was trimmed again, in a effort to spend some of the fund balance, instead of taking the money from taxpayers. As of 6/30/19, that fund balance is about $2 million, a little less than one years’ operating expense. That is in line with what auditors recommend as prudent fiscal practice.

Hall explained, “The library had a very substantial fund balance, approaching $5 million. The plan was over a course of several years, to roll that millage back in order to use that fund balance and get it down to a reasonable level of approximately a year’s operating reserve. We’ve reached the point now where it’s time to stabilize that millage where they have a reasonable fund balance.”

He added, “When you were collecting 5.99, you were collecting much more than you were spending. So your fund balance was continuing to get larger and larger every year.”

Library expenditures have remained relatively stable, ranging from about $2 million in 2011 to today’s $2.4 million.

Library Director Vivian McCain and Board of Control Chair Augusta Clark suggested that the maximum 5.99 millage be levied for 2019.

A figure has to published this week in the parish’s official journal, as a thirty day notice has to be given prior to the public hearing.

Earlier in the meeting, the jury got some bad news.

Approximately $1 million in severance tax revenues from oil and gas production won’t be received this year, and maybe not for the next couple of years.

A Louisiana Department of Natural Resources program (Severance Tax Relief Program) allows “suspension or reduction of severance taxes due on production from a qualifying well for a variable time period depending on the category.”

The $1 million represents about 35% of the general fund budget, so some serious trimming will have to be done, it appears.

The general fund has a balance of about $3.8 million.

The first casualty is the $400-$500 thousand that is transferred yearly into the Courthouse Capital Fund.

That fund is nominally used for repairs to parish-owned buildings, but has also been used recently for jail repairs and horse barns.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tomorrow

07/08/2019

The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, July 9, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here’s the agenda.

Millage Renewal Discussion on Police Jury Agenda

07/07/2019

An agenda item labeled “Millage Renewal Discussion (2019) is on the agenda for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Tuesday night meeting.

The meeting is set for 7:00 PM, Tuesday, July 9, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

There will also be a meeting of the jury’s Personnel/Benefits Committee at 6:45 PM.

Here’s that agenda.

Celebrity Drive/N. Service Rd Connector Construction to Begin

07/02/2019

Construction of a connector road between Celebrity Drive and the I-20 North Service Road is set to begin, after the Ruston City Council approved last night a resolution authorizing the bid award.

Amethyst Construction was the only bidder for the project, with a price of $2.98 million.

A traffic light will be installed at the intersection of Celebrity Drive and Hwy 33 (Farmerville Hwy). The new connector will run eastward between the old Community Trust Bank building and Raceway. Turning southward, it will connect with the service road between Northside Furniture and Quality Inn.

The existing intersection next to the Circle K Shell station will be blocked, alleviating the chronic congestion in that area.

Said Assistant Public Works Director John Freeman that there are “285 calendar days in the project.”

The revised Airport Advisory Board Ordinance was unanimously adopted, and City Attorney Bill Carter explained the rationale behind the changes.

Said Carter, “At the request of certain of our board members, because the way the ordinance provides, they are termed to be an airport authority, as defined under state law. An airport authority has the authority to expend funds, whether local, state or federal. That results in the requirement for anyone, the member of a board who has the authority to expend local, state, or federal funds to file a tier 2.1 financial disclosure statement.”

He explained that there was a reluctance to serve on the board by some because of the reporting requirements. In the past, the authority had never on their own actually expended funds, because the mayor and council authorized any expenditures, Carter said.

The only practical effect of the ordinance would be to eliminate the reporting requirement for advisory board members.

Another ordinance enacted concerned massage therapists and establishments, and a requirement for those establishments to be registered.

Ruston Police Department Chief Steve Rogers said that while it hasn’t been an problem in Ruston, some area communities have reported issues with human trafficking.

Notable at the meeting was incumbent District 35 Senator Jim Fannin, who spent several minutes recounting events at last spring’s legislative session.

Fannin also showed up at a Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting last week to campaign.