Archive for the ‘City of Ruston’ Category

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.

Committee recommends Ruston EMS on 7-3 vote

09/22/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury Ambulance Committee this morning voted 7 to 3 to recommend to the jury that the Ruston EMS be the ambulance and rescue provider for the part of Lincoln Parish outside Ruston city limits.

On a motion by Choudrant Mayor Bill Sanderson, and a second by Lincoln Parish Deputy Sheriff Mike Rainwater, the motion was stated thus: “We recommend to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury that we enter into a contract with the City of Ruston for rescue and EMS services,” Sanderson said.

He added, “according to their proposal.”

Voting yes were Sanderson, Dubach Mayor Mona Wilson, Dr. Jackie White, Downsville Mayor Reggie Skains, Rainwater, Police Juror Milton Melton, and Grambling Police Chief Tommy Clark.

The no votes were Committee Chair Charlie Edwards, Police Jury President Richard Durrett, and Simsboro’s Steven Yeich.

Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 board chair Richard Aillet abstained.

Annette Straughter (LPPJ) and Walter Carpenter (Vienna Mayor) were absent.

The vote followed a failed motion by Melton, with a second by Yeich to send all the proposals to the jury without a recommendation.

“The three proposals be submitted to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for review and take action – namely The City of Ruston, Pafford, and Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1,” he moved

That vote was the exact reverse of the winning motion. Voting yes were Edwards, Durrett and Yeich, with the rest voting no. Aillet abstained.

Several comments were made, including Lincoln Parish Sheriff Stephen Williams.

Said Williams, “What you’re asking (Fire District) Chief Reynolds to do, you’re setting him up for failure. I think you should take the five year contract with the city, and in the meantime figure out how you can get some more money funneled to your fire department and rescue and build them up. You’re putting our citizens at risk, and I just can’t sit back and be quiet about that anymore.

Reynolds had earlier in the meeting presented the committee with a proposal for outfitting the parish department with the personnel and equipment to do rescue operations.

He proposed adding 6 men full time and trucks and equipment. Operating costs were listed at about $475 to $500 thousand/year over five years, with equipment costs of $800 thousand spread out over four years.

See here the proposal.

The final decision on what proposal to accept and how to fund it all will be made by the police jury.

Ambulance Committee Tomorrow

09/21/2022

LINCOLN PARISH POLICE JURY AMBULANCE COMMITTEE

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22nd, 2022 at 9:00 A.M.

Lincoln Parish Library Jack Beard Room, 910 N Trenton St.

Here is the agenda.

Ambulance Committee Hears Proposals

09/15/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s Ambulance Committee this morning heard formal proposals from both Ruston Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Service and Pafford Emergency Medical Services, Inc. to provide ambulance service to the rural areas of Lincoln Parish.

See here the documents:

Ruston Fire Chief Chris Womack reviewed the document and fielded questions from the committee members.

“The meat of this agreement is a five year agreement for the amount we discussed earlier in the year – $645,604,” he said. “The cost would increase – on the top of page three- by the consumer price index, Southwest Region,” he added.

Asked what that number was over the past several years, he said it had been in the 1 to 2 percent range until the last year, when it was in the 8% range.

“Parish residents will be only be liable for the amounts paid by government or commercial insurers, including Medicare or Medicaid,” Womack said. He added that no bills would be sent to uninsured patients.

Womack added that should the Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1 ever took over the rescue duties currently provided by Ruston, the amount of the contract would be reduced by $100 thousand/year.

Several new employees would be added, Womack said, as call volume had increased significantly.

“We’re looking at starting right off the bat adding two per shift, and I see that growing,” he said.

Dubach Mayor Mona Wilson asked, “When is too much too much? This past week there was a 2 car vehicle accident, and I passed two fire district trucks and a Ruston EMS truck. Why did they need three?”

Womack said they always send fire trucks to vehicle accidents, as there is always a chance of fire or a fuel spill.

Pafford’s Shane Davis reviewed his company’s proposals and also took questions.

He said the proposal was for one year, with the option to renew annually every year for five years, at a cost of $360 thousand/year. There is no escalation clause, Davis added.

Pafford’s proposal is for ambulance emergency medical service only, with no rescue service provided. Ruston’s proposal is for both ems and rescue.

But Pafford provides transport service to all area and regional medical facilities, where Ruston carries patients to North Louisiana Medical Center only.

Said Davis, “The BLS (basic life support) is a actually a really good tool…you don’t want to tie up an ALS (advanced life support) truck on a BLS call. Taking someone to dialysis or from dialysis.”

Pafford’s plan would station ambulances around the parish in the Lincoln Parish Fire Protectiion District No. 1’s existing fire stations.

There was a bit of discussion about how Lincoln’s 911 system would transfer calls to Pafford’s dispatch system. The plan calls for 911 to automatically switch parish calls to Pafford, with the 911 dispatcher relaying the pertinent info.

Ruston Fire/EMS has use of a system called ANI/ALI (automatic number identifications/automatic location information). That system provides detailed record of a 911 caller’s location and phone number. Presently, Pafford does not have that capability, but will in the future , Davis said.’

It was noted that about 60% of 911 calls are now via cell phone, which sometimes don’t provide as much information for ANI/ALI as does a landline.

The parish fire district did not provide a formal proposal for their rescue service, but will have one at the next committee meeting.

Here is their budget as presented at the August meeting.

The next meeting of the committee is next Thursday, September 22, 9 AM, Jack Beard Room, Lincoln Parish Library, 910 North Trenton.

RV Park to be built at Sports Complex

09/13/2022

The city council last night approved a plan to lease property at the Ruston Sports Complex for construction and operation of a recreational vehicle park.

Ruston Sports RV Park, LLC will develop the twelve acre tract to handle up to 90 hook-ups with water, sewer, and power. The tract is located on Ball Park Road, just east of the indoor sports complex.

City Attorney Bill Carter said the site will be of benefit to the complex and the city, and Mayor Ronny Walker added that the company would foot the bill for construction with no cost to the city.

Ward Three’s Melanie Lewis had a couple of questions.

“Do we know who long this lease will be?” She also asked what the estimated value of the lease was.

Walker said the terms are still being negotiated, but expected that the city could be paid up to 20% of the company’s revenues. He added that an appraisal was underway to determine the value of the property for lease purposes.

He added that Interstate 20 RV traffic would likely use the park, in addition to rentals in connection to sports activities.

Prior to adoption of the city’s budget, City Treasurer Julie Speir noted that several capital projects were underway to include a new fire station, the animal shelter, street overlays and construction, sewer lift station upgrades, and water line replacement.

Ruston City Council Meets Monday

09/11/2022

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, September 12, 5:30, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton

Here is the agenda.

Among the action items is the budget for Fiscal Year 10/1/2022 – 9/30/23.

See here the document.

A public hearing will be held for input prior to the vote.

Ambulance Committee votes to Negotiate with Ruston EMS

09/08/2022

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s Ambulance Committee this morning voted to reopen negotiations with the City of Ruston to continue the city’s role of providing emergency medical services to areas outside the city limits of Ruston.

The committee can only make recommendations to the jury who has the final decision making authority.

After years of paying the city $30 thousand per year for the service, late last year Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker first demanded the jury quadruple that amount to $120 thousand. He then withdrew that offer and demanded $645 thousand per year.

The jury balked at the demands.

The motion as stated by committee member Dr. Jackie White was, “I would like the invite the city back to the table to give us a proposal for ambulance and rescue service for Lincoln Parish. At the same time they give it to us, I would like to give it to the police jury as well.”

The vote, however, was not unanimous.

Voting for: Annette Straughter (LPPJ), Bill Sanderson (Choudrant Mayor), Mona Wilson (Dubach Mayor), Jackie White (Health Hut), Reggie Skains (Downsville Mayor), Mike Rainwater (LPSO), Anne Grambling (LPSO).

Voting no: Richard Durrett (LPPJ), Steven Yeich (Simsboro)

Abstaining: Richard Aillet (LP Fire District), Charlie Edwards (Committee Chair), Milton Melton (LPPJ)

The vote came after some discussion on how to state the motion, and an amendment to the original motion that added the jury to the notification process.

Ruston Fire Chief Chris Womack told the committee that the last proposal made for $645 thousand per year would be the offer.

Said Womack, “Our offer hasn’t changed. I’ll put it back on the table.”

Asked about terms, Womack said the contract would need to be for five years, with a yearly inflation increase tied to the prime interest rate.

The next meeting of the committee will be Thursday, September 15, 9:00 AM at the Lincoln Parish Library’s Jack Beard Room.

See here a video of the meeting.

Key Police Jury Staffer Has Business Relationship with City of Ruston

09/07/2022

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Administrator Doug Postel is part owner of a business that has an exclusive franchise with the City of Ruston’s Sports Complex. Ruston Gameday Grill has been the exclusive provider of food and refreshment concessions for the facility since it’s opening in 2019.

Contract documents list Postel as president of the company and have both his and Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker’s signatures on them. Here are the contracts:

The financial relationship could present a problem with Louisiana’s Code of Governmental Ethics, which prohibits public employees from benefiting from “persons who have or are seeking to obtain a contractual or other business or financial relationship with the public servant’s agency.”

The jury has for several months been involved in contentious negotiations with the city over ambulance service for citizens outside the city limits.

The contract’s term require the vendor to pay the city 20% of the gross revenues.

According to the city’s 2023 budget, that figure for 2021 was about $122 thousand and for 2022 about $93 thousand.

That would indicate that Ruston Gameday Grill’s gross sales are in the range of $500 to $600 thousand per year.