Archive for the ‘City of Ruston’ Category

Ruston/Buc-ee’s agreement documents

01/15/2023

Among the obligations of the City of Ruston:

Section 3.2: Obligations of the City. The City hereby agrees to undertake the following obligations:

(a) The City shall extend, at the sole cost and expense of the City, all utilities to the Travel Center Area and the Development Area necessary for the development of the Travel Center and including the following (collectively, the “Project Utilities”): water line, sanitary sewer line, electric service.

(c) The City shall provide electricity to the Travel Center at 4.75 cents ($0.0475) per KWH for a period of twenty (20) years, beginning on the date that the Travel Center and other improvements to be located within the Travel Center Area have been connected for the receipt of electrical utility services.

(d) The City shall waive any and all City fees in connection with the development of the Travel Center, including: (i) plan review and permitting fees; (ii) inspection fees;  (iii) City utility connection fees for electric, water and sewer services for the Travel Center and other improvements located within the Travel Center Area; (iv) impact fees or similar type fees, including impact fees for water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and drainage, and transportation.

(e) The City hereby agrees to reimburse the Company, from undedicated funding sources, an amount equal to all the City Sales Taxes generated within the Travel Center Area, along with an additional amount equal to the amount of revenue that would otherwise be generated from an additional sales tax of twenty five hundredths percent (0.25%) within the Travel Center Area, (the “City Sales Tax Additive” and collectively with the City Sales Tax referred to as the “Combined City Sales Tax”) for a period of twenty (20) years beginning on January 1 in the year following the opening of the Travel Center to the general public (the “Sales Tax Reimbursement Period”).

(f) The City covenants and agrees to reimburse the Company, from undedicated funding sources, an amount equal to all City Ad Valorem Tax assessed within the Travel Center Area for a period of twenty (20) years beginning on January 1 in the year following the opening of the Travel Center to the general public (the “Ad Valorem Tax Reimbursement Period”). The City shall make the City Ad Valorem Tax reimbursement payments to the Company on January 30th of each year, commencing on the January 30th following the first year of the Ad Valorem Tax Reimbursement Period.

(k) The City shall provide water and sewer service to the Travel Center at the rates established by the City through City Ordinance No. 1830 of 2022 and City Ordinance No. 1831 of 2022, for a period of twenty (20) years beginning on the date that the Travel Center and other improvements to be located within the Travel Center Area have been connected for the receipt of water and sewer services.

See here the complete document.

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Mayor says Buc-ee’s is coming to Ruston

01/10/2023

A Buc-ee’s Travel Center will be locating in Ruston at the Tarbutton Road/I20 interchange, with construction to begin later this year, and opening in 2025, it was announced at last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council.

It will be the first Buc-ee’s operation in Louisiana.

The council unanimously voted to approve a cooperative endeavor agreement (CEA) with CSMS Management, L.L.C, an affiliate of Buc-ee’s.

However, no details of the agreement, nor terms, incentives, or tax breaks the city has promised the company were revealed. Those details will be announced later, Lincoln Parish News Online was told.

On hand from the company was Stan Beard, Director of Real Estate.

“We are humbled to say that this is a huge first step to bringing Buc-ee’s to Ruston,” he said. “The mayor and Jade (Ruston Economic Development Director Jade West) went above and beyond what most communities do to get us to talk to them. It was a sales pitch that was hard to say no to.”

City Attorney Bill Carter said that other parish taxing bodies will execute CEA’s with Buc-ee’s. “The city provides some incentives, as well as the police jury, the school board, and the sheriff are also providing incentives, but the city has been the leader in this,” he said.

In a press release, Mayor Ronny Walker said, “”This is a tremendous project. We are so grateful that Buc-ee’s has decided to locate its first travel center in the state here in Ruston. The capital investment  is huge and the 200+ jobs being created are extraordinary for the citizens of Ruston. We are excited to welcome Buc-ee’s to our community and look forward to their success.”

In other business, the council approved the reappointment of several department heads, including Julie Speir as Clerk/Treasurer, Bill Carter as City Attorney, John Freeman as Public Works Director, Steve Rogers as Police Chief, and Chris Womack as Fire Chief.

City to create “Industrial Development Board”

01/06/2023

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will decide if it will create an Industrial Development Board at Monday’s (Jan 9) regular meeting. The board will be organized and will have powers in accordance with LA RS 51:1151, et seq., to include acquisition and sale of property, issue bonds, and collect rent.

Proposed as board members are:

  • Samuel G. Ponder
  • Thomas L. Phillips
  • Charles R. Mabry
  • Virginia L. Love
  • Bobby E. Williams

See here the proposed resolution.

The council will also consider the sale of property at the city’s Sports Complex for construction of a hotel development and an entertainment center.

The documents indicate the sale price “may be less than the appraised value” of the property, but “is anticipated to generate revenue and create jobs which will more than offset the difference in the purchase price and the appraised value of the property.”

See here the resolutions:

Hotel

Entertainment Center

The meeting is set for 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Council amends Liquor Ordinace to allow smaller store sales

12/06/2022

An ordinance limiting liquor sales to stores of 30 thousand square feet or larger was amended at last night’s Ruston City Council Meeting to 15 thousand square feet. That ordinance would regulate package liquor sales within the city limits of Ruston, should voters approve such sales.

The ordinance was originally introduced at last month’s meeting, and then an amended ordinance with several changes was given to the council just prior to them voting.

See here that document.

In addition to the change in size of stores allowed to sell liquor, several definitions were added, including tavern, brewpub and drive-through.

City Attorney Bill Carter explained the amendments.

Said Carter, “The original ordinance has been reduced from 30 thousand, and an additional condition is the sales of alcohol cannot exceed fifty percent of the total sales of the establishment.”

Prior to the discussion and vote on the ordinance, a resolution was approved calling for a March 25, 2023 election for the city’s voters to decide what alcohol sales will be allowed. Recently, a petition drive to call an election was successful.

See there the resolution.

The change in store size requirement will likely change again if the voters approve package sales. Already area convenience stores are pushing to be allowed to sell liquor.

Local attorney Kyle Green, representing the owners of Now Save Stores, Chevron U PAK IT, and others addressed the issue.

Said Green, “The concern for the businesses is competition. As proposed, they would not be able to sell anything of high alcoholic content.”

He added that these small businesses were local, their families were here, and had been in the area for years.

A simple ordinance amendment by the council will be all that is necessary for that to change. Voter approval won’t be required.

In other business, the council approved a $1.75 million project that will connect East Kentucky to Cedar Creek Road just east of the present intersection. The new connection will bypass a substandard bridge on Cedar Creek that will be closed to vehicular traffic.

Ruston City Council Tomorrow

12/04/2022

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, December 5, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Utility, Water customers will pay another $3.5 million+ beginning next year for neglected infrastructure

11/08/2022

Despite spending tens of millions of dollars to build a money losing sports complex over the past several years, there apparently is a lack of money for maintenance and upgrades to the City of Ruston’s critical infrastructure, it was said at last night’s meeting of the city council. Instead money has been looted from the city’s utility fund to prop up other city departments.

Mayor Ronny Walker admitted as much, saying, “If that system goes down or we sell it, every department in our city gets slashed as far as money that is transferred from the electric to those departments. The electrical system in the City of Ruston is the cash cow, everybody, every department benefits from that.”

Public Works Utilities Manager Andrew Halbrook cited a litany of “needs” for the electric distribution system.

Said Halbrook, “This rate increase will fund necessary repairs to 50 plus year old substations, infrastructure that is failing daily, and also allow for us to be more resilient and reliable in our electrical distribution. We have front-line vehicles that are 30 plus years old that are desperately needing to be replaced.”

He added, “We have multiple subdivisions throughout Ruston that all have aging infrastructure – some that were built in the 1960s, 1970s – all that underground infrastructure is reaching the end of its usable life. We’re having frequent problems – all those problems cost increased manpower, increased material costs.”

Ward Four’s Jim Pearce opposed the increase.

Said he, “I don’t just think now is the time to raise the rates – I think this is going to generate roughly $3 million annually, is that correct? A lot of people are having a hard time between the price of gas and food and inflation. I don’t think you can just keep going back to the well to raise money. I just don’t think the public can take more.”

Ward One’s Carolyn Cage said that people would just have to economize to pay the higher rates.

Said she, “It’s called sacrifice. I might have to sacrifice going out to eat one week for a hamburger. A hamburger now is probably $10, so that would be what the (extra) bill would be.

Walker agreed, “You can turn you lights off, you can lower your heating or raise your thermostat for air conditioning.”

When the vote came, only Pierce voted no.

Another ordinance was enacted that will raise the city’s water rates by $500 to $600 thousand. The vote was the same and the discussion was similar.

Said Water Utilities Manager Keith Jeselink, “We have aging infrastructure taking place within our system. If we don’t change what we are charging, just by a little bit to get us to where we can try to keep up, we’re going to start getting farther behind the eight ball.”

Sewer rates will remain the same.

In other business, the council approved an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for ambulance and rescue service.

Here is the document.

City Council meets Monday

11/06/2022

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, November 7, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Scheduled is the final vote on an ordinance that would raise electric rates for the city’s customers. A public hearing will be held prior to the vote.

Council delays softball/tennis facilities rental to school board

10/04/2022

A rare thing happened at last night’s meeting of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen – near unanimous pushback from the council on a plan to lease the softball fields and tennis facilities at the city’s sports complex for use by Ruston High School.

As presented by City Attorney Bill Carter, the resolution was for a five-year term as requested by the school district, but when Ward 4’s Jim Pearce made the motion, he specified that the term should be for one year.

Moved Pearce, “…to approve the cooperative endeavor agreement with the term being one year, and the fee to be negotiated with the school board by the mayor.”

Some discussion ensued on how next to proceed, and Carter suggested that the resolution be postponed and brought up at the next meeting with all the terms spelled out in the document.

Said Ward 1’s Carolyn Cage, “I totally agree with you Jim, on it being one year.”

Carter and Mayor Ronny Walker agreed that almost all the city’s agreements had one-year terms, and they preferred them.

When time came to introduce the ordinance to hike the city’s electric rates, there was another interesting event.

After Walker asked “who would like to introduce this ordinance?,” there was a deafening four-second silence before Ward 5’s Bruce Seigmund spoke up and said, “I would love to introduce this ordinance.”

That ordinance will be voted on at next month’s meeting after a public hearing for citizen input.

What Ruston utility customers pay for

10/02/2022

For the budget year of 2023 (10/1/22 – 9/30/22) Ruston’s electric distribution system will spend about $10.3 million to buy power from outside suppliers.

A new seven year contract was negotiated in 2020 at a time when power costs were historically low.

That power is budgeted to be sold to Ruston’s utility customers – residential, commercial, and industrial – for about $18.4 million. This price includes $10 million in “fuel adjustment.”

That represents a mark-up of almost 80%.

So where does the $8.1 million in gross profit go?

Here’s the 2023 proposed budget with all the revenues and expenditures.

Hike for Ruston’s electric rates proposed

09/30/2022

An ordinance set to be introduced at next Monday’s meeting of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen would increase the city’s residential electric rates significantly, if approved.

The amendment to ordinance 27-126 and 27-127 would hike the rate from $0.035/kilowatt-hour to $0.0485/kwh. Additionally, a provision that gives customers a lower rate from November through April will be eliminated.

Rates for customers other than residential will also be increased.

See here the proposed ordinance.

The council meeting is scheduled for 5:30 PM, Monday, October 3, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.