Archive for August, 2019

More on Ruston Budgets


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.


Sumlin Case Headed to Trial


After four (4) years of delays, continuances, refixes, and hearings, former Louisiana state representative William Sumlin is headed to trial.

The trial, on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile, will be held Monday, October 21, 9:00 AM in Third Judicial District Court in Ruston. A hearing for any outstanding motions is set for Wednesday, October 15, 1:30 PM, and a pretrial conference is set for Friday, October 18, 9:00 AM.

Sumlin was originally arrested in October of 2015.

The action came late yesterday afternoon in Division B Judge Tommy Roger’s courtroom.

As Sumlin and his attorney LaValle Salomon stood before the bench, Rogers could be heard asking, “What are we waiting for, Mr. Salomon?”

Appearing for the state was Assistant District Attorney Tracy Houck.

Ruston Budget Details


For the past few days, we’ve been reviewing Ruston’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget, effective 10/1/2019 through 9/30/2020.

Here are some of the significant items:

Police Department

The FY2020 budget allocates $4,747,814 for the year. This compares to a FY2019 original budget of $5,031,052. The projected actual spending for FY2019 is $4,882,789.

The fiscal year ends September 30, 2019.

Much of the reduction is in personnel services – salaries, overtime, retirement, insurance, etc.

The FY2020 budget allocates $3,820,243 for the year for personnel. This compares to a FY2019 original budget of $3,989,071. The projected actual spending for 2019 is $3,840,808.

Actual personnel services spending for 2017 and 2018 was $3,536,052 and $3,788,603, respectively.

See here the document.

Executive Department

This department shows a FY2020 total proposed budget of $2,646,641, compared to a proposed FY2019 amount of $2,294,022. Actual FY2019 spending is projected to be $2,492,629. FY2017 actual spending was $2,669,418, and for FY2018 it was $2,270,109.

Personnel Services for the department have been relatively constant – 2017 actual: $1,063,943, 2018 actual: $1,140,885, 2019 proposed: $1,160,084, and 2020 proposed: $1,144,056.

However, there is an item that was not budgeted for in 2019, “rent of building.” This item looks to be the culprit for the overage in 2019, and the 2020 increase.

FY2019 projects total spending in this line item to be $398,736. For FY2020, $235,062 is budgeted.

See here the document.

Sports Complex

For FY2020, this department proposes $588,107 in spending. For FY2019, the original budgeted amount was $408,925. Projections are for FY2019 spending to actually be $434,506.

Personnel Services for this department are proposed to be $401,307 for FY2020, compared to FY2019’s budget of $204,425. Actual FY2019 personnel spending is projected at $174,503.

See here the document.

Administration Proposes “Flat” Budget for Ruston


Blaming last April’s tornado for unexpected utility repair costs, Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker asked that next fiscal year’s city budget show no net increase in spending. His comments were made at last night’s meeting of the Personnel-Finance Committee, comprised of all five members of the Board of Aldermen.

Said Walker, “I asked for a flat budget, and the department heads actually went a little farther, with the help of Laura (City Clerk Laura Hartt).”

Hartt added, “The mayor asked for us to provide a flat budget, mostly in response to the tornado damages, that were a huge cash expenditure for the city.”

She said total revenues are expected to be $70,473,000, a 5% increase over the 2018-19 budget. Expenditures are projected to be $62,317,000, a 2% decrease.

Hartt added that about $4 to $5 million was spent on tornado damage repairs, and that they expected to be reimbursed by FEMA for about 75% of those costs.

A 2% across the board employee raise is included in the budget.

Walker said the raises were funded within each department’s budget, and that there were no employee reductions, or loss of city services.

Asked by Ward Four Alderman Jim Pearce, Hartt said that the annual debt payment to cover the existing bond issues is about $1.5 million/yr.

Here is the complete budget document presented to the council.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the budget to the council for adoption.

City Council to Review Budget Thursday


Last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council set a new meeting for this Thursday, August 22, 5:30 PM.

City Attorney Bill Carter explained, “As Mayor Walker indicated last meeting, he did not realize that he was not going to be in town for tonight’s meeting, which is our regular meeting that we typically have in the middle of August to hear the presentation regarding the budget. Because of that what we did is we decided to add a regular meeting this Thursday. We’re simply amending the ordinance.”

We will publish the agenda when available.

Ruston City Council Meeting Monday


The Ruston City Council will meet Monday, August 19, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, first floor.

The only agenda item is an ordinance setting the date, time, and place for the 2019 regular monthly meetings of the city’s Board of Aldermen.

Louisiana Revised Statute 42:19 requires all public bodies enact a resolution, ordinance, or law yearly.

ยง19. Notice of meetings

A.(1)(a) All public bodies, except the legislature and its committees and subcommittees, shall give written public notice of their regular meetings, if established by law, resolution, or ordinance, at the beginning of each calendar year. Such notice shall include the dates, times, and places of such meetings.

Fundraisers Next Week


Police Jury Talks Money


A shortage of money, and what to do about it, took up much of last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury.

The discussion began during the Fiance Committee meeting where two budget amendments were adopted to accommodate a million dollar revenue shortfall caused by loss of oil/gas severance tax proceeds.

General Fund Budget Amendment
Courthouse Capital Fund Budget Amendment

That development was revealed at last month’s meeting, and was a result of oil/gas producers in the parish taking advantage of tax exemptions not previously used.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted, “The Local Government Budget Act requires that if you have a 5% variance or more in your budget during the calendar year, you have to formally as soon as possible take action to formally amend your budget, which is what we’re doing tonight, because it’s so significant.”

During the full jury meeting, a resolution was passed asking the area’s legislative delegation and the Louisiana Police Jury Association for assistance to enact legislation that could provide relief.

See here the document.

During the discussion, it was brought out that the severance tax revenues would likely not be forthcoming for 2020. These taxes make up about 1/3 of the general fund budget.

The jury unanimously approved the property tax rates for 2019. The millage rates are the same as last year, with the exception of the library tax for operation and maintenance, which was increased from 3.20 mils to 4.65 mils.

See here the ordinances.

A public hearing was held prior to the jury meeting, and there was a bit of public participation.

Mark Taylor said that the jurors should be aware that the money that funds the library belongs to the taxpayers. He also suggested that the library doesn’t server the entire parish, especially since it no longer operates a bookmobile. He added that other efficiencies in operation could be realized, perhaps by revamping operating hours.

Former Jury Administrator spoke, noting that the bookmobile was simply too expensive to operate and maintain, and that the library has programs that serve all the parish.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, August 13), Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor. Committee meetings begin at 6:30 PM.

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Finance Committee – 6:45 PM

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Jackson Parish Ballot