Archive for August, 2022

Police Jurors have second thoughts, want to negotiate with Ruston EMS

08/28/2022

Two Lincoln Parish Police Jurors who voted not to contract with the City of Ruston’s EMS for ambulance and rescue service, have had an apparent change of heart and now want to “talk” to the city.

Sharyon Mayfield (District 11) and Glenn Scriber (District 6) said that the high expense of equipping the Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1 with the equipment and personnel made a deal with the City of Ruston worth another look.

The discussion took place at Friday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury Ambulance Committee.

Said Mayfield, “I think we need to invite the city back to the table. We need to try to get some type of negotiation back into the system.”

Scriber said, “I’ve learned a lot in the past two months about ambulance and rescue. We have information now.”

Committee member Dr. Jackie White echoed what Mayfield and Scriber said.

Said White, “I feel like a lot of this is duplicated because our city has so much rescue equipment. If we can talk to the city about coming together and utilizing equipment that’s going to be used a couple of times a year, why are we going to ask our parishioners to pay double for some of that.”

Several committee members said they would make efforts to reopen negotiations with the city.

Here’s a video of the meeting.

Ambulance Committee to meet Friday

08/25/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s Ambulance Committee will meet Friday, August 26, 1:30 PM, Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

See here the minutes from last week’s meeting.

Ruston Sports Complex relying on subsidies from other City Departments

08/25/2022

The Ruston Sports Complex apparently cannot support itself financially and is having to rely on funds transferred from other city departments and the city’s general fund, budget documents from the city show.

In 2021, $1.16 million was transferred from the city’s general fund to the sports complex, along with $312 thousand from the electric system.

In 2022, the projected totals are $102 thousand from the general fund and $567 thousand from the electric system.

For 2023, the proposed budget will transfer $575 thousand from the electric system to the sports complex.

See here the proposed 2023 sports complex budget.

Revenues – concessions, sponsorships and rentals – have consistently fallen short of operating expenses – personnel, services, supplies and materials – for the past several years.

The electric system buys power wholesale and distributes it retail to customers within the city. The city owns and operates the distribution system – poles, wiring, transformers, substations and other electrical equipment – and must maintain the system with the profit earned from power sales.

General fund monies are non-dedicated funds and may be spent as the council and mayor may direct.

Ambulance Staffing to Double Again

Ruston’s Emergency Medical Services payroll will more than double again under the 2023 budget just proposed, documents show.

Personnel Services – salaries, overtime, retirement and insurance – for 2023 shows about $2.2 million in spending, compared to a projected total of $844 thousand for 2022.

As recently as 2020, total payroll and benefits was but $428 thousand. In 2021 that figure was just over $1 million.

See here the 2023 proposed budget.

Also notable in the budget is the reduction in revenue (about $330 thousand) from billings to insurance carriers. That is a result of no longer responding to calls outside the city limits of Ruston, and the loss of those corresponding insurance payments.

The budget shows the new $5 per electric meter surcharge bringing in about $600 thousand.

The 2022 budget shows 11 authorized positions in the service compared to 26 proposed in 2023, even though call volume should be reduced by about 40% after January 1.

Aillet: “When the phone rings on Jan 1, we’re going to respond”

08/18/2022

Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1 Board of Commissioners Chair Richard Aillet told this morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury Ambulance Committee that the district’s personnel will respond to rescue and fire calls after January 1, 2023, “regardless of what takes place” otherwise.

Said Aillet, “When we do respond, all of our paid personnel, everyone of them, are either EMT’s or paramedics.” He added that most of the volunteers for the district were trained in rescue, paramedic, swift water, or other emergency response skills.

He proposed hiring an additional six more paid personnel so that the parish would have two dedicated full-time personnel for fire calls, and also two people dedicated for rescue.

The estimated cost of the additional manpower is $478 thousand/year, he said.

Aillet added that a dedicated “rescue” truck would cost about $750 thousand, but the district had previously set aside $250 thousand dedicated for that purpose. The lead time for the truck is estimated to be 2 years, it was said.

Another $140 thousand would be needed for equipment dedicated for rescue, he said.

The district now has six paid staff, and 45 volunteers, District Fire Chief Kevin Reynolds said.

Committee Chair Charlie Edwards addressed the issue of funding in his remarks.

Edwards said that they contacted Claiborne Electric and suggested a monthly fee that might be added to Lincoln Parish customers, similar to what the City of Ruston added to their bills earlier this month.

Claiborne was receptive to the idea, Edwards said, but Entergy, the other rural utility provider in the parish, was not.

Edwards said that the jury’s hospital fund that is now held in escrow might be a source, but that would require a vote from parish residents.

The committee also set the next meeting for 8/26/22 at 1:30 PM.

Ambulance Committee Meets Thursday; Pafford Draft Contract Released

08/16/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury Ambulance Committee will meet Thursday, August 18, 9:00 AM, Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Also committee chair Charlie Edwards released a “rough draft” of the proposed contract between the police jury and Pafford EMS.

Wrote Edwards:

Everyone,

Attached is a draft of the Pafford proposal I got this evening. Please be aware that this is a rough draft and by no means the final proposal. It has not been reviewed by Mr Durrett, Dr white nor the attorney. I did want everyone to see it though and be prepared to give some input at the proper time.  Once again – this is only a rough draft with work still to be done so please do not consider it final by any means.

Thanks

Charlie Edwards

Here is the document.

LPPJ moving ahead with Pafford deal; City could lose $400 thousand in EMS insurance revenue

08/10/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury is moving forward with negotiations that will likely lead to a contract with Pafford Medical Services to provide emergency medical ambulance service to residents outside the city limits of Ruston, it was said at last night’s meeting of the jury.

Several sources with knowledge of the matter told LPNO that if that deal is made, about 40% of the revenues from insurance billings would go to Pafford instead of Ruston EMS. That number is the approximate percentage of emergency calls that are outside the city limits of Ruston, and will no longer be handled by Ruston EMS after January 1, 2023.

According to the latest figures we have available from the city’s buget, Slightly over $1 million was collected by Ruston EMS from various insurance carriers (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance) on behalf of emergency patients handled by the agency.

Forty percent of that figure would amount to about $400 thousand.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker had demanded that the police jury pay almost $650 thousand/year to continue rural emergency ambulance service outside Ruston’s city limits. That proposal was voted down at last month’s jury meeting.

Lincoln Parish Ambulance Committee Chair Charlie Edwards told the jury that negotiations with Pafford are ongoing and should be ready to present to the jury’s legal advisor within a short time.

Said Edwards, “I expect to see a contract by the end of this week, give it to the committee at the next meeting, and possibly also have it to Mr. (Assistant DA Lewis) Jones for his review.”

“If somebody on January 1 needs 911 and an ambulance, they will get it, one way or another,” he added.

Edwards said the cost of the subsidy to Pafford is $360 thousand, and would provide for Advanced Life Support (ALS) units staffed with a paramedic. He also addressed the issue of standards, saying that Pafford operates under state law and standards set by the Louisiana Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

Edwards is a retired engineer with Claiborne Electric and now operates a company that provides communications equipment for public agencies and utilities. He also serves on the Ruston/Lincoln Fire and Police Civil Service Board.

Also addressing the jury on the issue was Pafford Chief Operating Officer Shane Davidson.

Davidson noted that since their company operated all over North Louisiana, response times in outlying areas of Lincoln Parish could be quicker than that presently provided by Ruston EMS, as they have units stationed in towns close to the parish border, like Arcadia, Bernice, or Famerville.

He also said that if Pafford had the ambulance service for the city, no subsidy would be needed, as the insurance billings from those calls would provide enough additional income to cover the costs.

Said Davidson, “If we were running this entire parish, and Ruston city decided ‘hey, we’re not going to run ambulances any more, we’re going to let you do it, Pafford,’ we wouldn’t charge a subsidy. Because we would be picking up all the volume for the city calls, and we wouldn’t need a subsidy.”

Several area taxpayers spoke during the public comment period, including local restaurateur Chris Garriga.

Garrida questioned why no action was taken by the police jury when over a year ago the city offered the jury a long term contract for $120 thousand, and that last month the jury should have followed the recommendation of the ambulance committee and taken the city’s $650 thousand offer.

Bill May questioned why all of a sudden the city is short of money for ambulance operations.

Said May, “I don’t understand why suddenly all of this needs to be addressed, and all of this extra money needs to be provided. It doesn’t really pass the smell test to me.”

Police Jury Meets Tuesday

08/07/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, August 9, Lincoln Parish Library, Jack Beard Room, 910 North Trenton.

Here are the meeting times and agendas:

Solid Waste & Recycling Committee – 5:30 PM – Agenda

Finance Committee – 6:00 PM – Agenda

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM – Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM – Agenda

Ruston EMS Payroll Doubled from 2020 to 2021

08/01/2022

Personnel expenditures for the Ruston Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance) doubled in cost from Fiscal Year 2020 to 2021, according to budget documents from the City of Ruston.

Two weeks ago we reported that the proposed 2020 budget for personnel showed a significant increase. However, that jump in payroll spending did not materialize in 2020, but did in 2021.

In 2020, proposed total personnel spending was $815,067. The final actual amount spend was $428,727.

In 2021, the proposed total for that category was $979,207. The final projected amount to be spent, based on actual spending through 7/31/21 and estimated amounts for the last two months (8/21 & 9/21) was $888,281.

For 2022, the proposed personnel budget was $1,010,594.

Overtime was not as big a factor as the earlier budgets had projected. However, regular pay, pension costs, and insurance all more than doubled.

Here are all the documents:

It is notable that the ambulance fund’s reserve balance has stayed healthy for the past several years, with the 2021 estimated fund balance, or reserve, at $1.57 million. This indicates that revenues have kept pace with the spending.