Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish Police Jury’ Category

Budget Review @ LPPJ

09/14/2017

Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Finance Committee featured the annual exercise of reviewing budget requests from several area agencies. The requests are funded from the jury’s general fund, or those funds that are not dedicated to a specific purpose, like roads or solid waste.

See here the requests.

Among those requesting significant increases was the Third Judicial District Court. On hand to “make their case” were Judge Tommy Rogers and Judge Cynthia Woodard.

See here their request.

Said Woodard, “I appreciate what your office does for our office, and I want you to know that we’ve tried to be good stewards of the public’s funds.” She noted that statutorily, the jury is obliged to fund court reporter’s salaries.

Woodard also said that the court reporting equipment was obsolete and needs to be replaced, and that security needed to be set up for the court house.

Another agency requesting additional funding was the Registrar of Voters. Among the items listed were training seminars, annual conference, office supplies, and personnel costs.

See here the request.

All the requests would be reviewed and finalized prior to the adoption of next year’s budget, Committee Chair Skip Russell said.

As we had reported earlier this week, the jury voted to increase the road tax and cut the library’s funding.

The vote was unanimous.

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Lincoln Parish Police Jury to Hike Road Tax, Cut Library Tax

09/11/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet on Tuesday, September 12, where jurors will vote to set the millage rates for 2017 on two property taxes collected from parish property owners.

Two road taxes that now collect 4.08 mils each (8.16 total) are proposed to be rolled up to the legal maximum of 4.41 mils each (8.82 total), for a total tax hike to the property owner of of 0.66 mils.

The library’s millage is proposed to be cut from 4.30 mils to 3.95 mils, or a reduction of 0.35 mils.

If adopted, the net effect to the Lincoln Parish Taxpayer will be a tax hike of 0.31 mils. The owner of a $200 thousand house would pay just under $4 more in property taxes.

The meetings will be at the Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Public Works Committee – 5:30 PM
Agenda

Finance Committee – 6:00 PM
Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
Agenda

More on LPPJ Meeting

08/14/2017

There was a bit more to last Tuesday’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) meeting than the tax vote. Two committees were set to meet, but only one had a quorum and could conduct business.

The Public Property & Building’s Committee met as scheduled and approved the appointment of Mike Walpole as architect for a proposed expansion of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center. An architect is necessary to assist in the application for a Rural Development Loan.

The jury is contemplating borrowing the approximately $3.5 million to add about 100 beds to the jail.

The committee also extensively discussed a proposal to renovate the Lincoln Parish Court House. It was suggested that engineers/architects be solicited for ideas and suggestions on what could be done and some preliminary cost estimates.

Among the possible renovations are roof, windows, exterior, elevators, and if any expansion to the existing building is possible from a structural standpoint.

District Seven’s Jody Backus suggested that a complete new courthouse ought to be compared cost-wise to renovation.

Said Backus, “We really ought to throw in a comparison, a heads up comparison, of rebuilding versus remodeling.”

District Six’s Walter Pullen said, “You can either try to come up with eight to ten million dollars over five or six years to to fix it up and make it nice, or you can to figure out where you’re going to get twenty million dollars to build a new court house. And, I don’t think you’re going to get twenty million dollars to build a new court house.”

Time ran out on the meeting, so no action was taken on the proposal.

The Finance Committee meeting was not held, as a quorum wasn’t present.

It is notable that the two missing committee members – District One’s Theresa Wyatt and District Ten’s Nancy Wilson – represent the districts that a lawsuit filed a year ago claimed “no representation on any committees that determine how Lincoln Parish tax dollars are spent.”

Lincoln Jury Votes to Keep Property Tax Rates Steady

08/09/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), on an 8-2 vote, kept millage rates the same as last year on one of the property taxes seized from parish property owners. The action came at last night’s regular monthly meeting of the jury.

The General Alimony, a tax levied that can used for “any public purpose” was for 2016 levied at 1.68 mils for residents inside Ruston city limits, and 3.37 mils for those residents outside. Legally, the jury could have rolled those rates up to 1.82 and 3.65 mils if they so chose. The roll-forward would have resulted in an additional $100 thousand in total taxes seized from property owners.

Voting for the roll-up were Hazel Hunter and Sharyon Mayfield.

Voting no were Bobby Bennett, Randy Roberson, David Hammons, Walter Pullen, Jody Backus, Skip Russell, Nancy Wilson, and Annette Straughter.

Theresa Wyatt and Joe Henderson were absent.

The vote came after a public hearing on the tax ordinance that heard some pointed comments about taxes and government spending from Ruston resident Lou Taylor.

Taylor lamented the burden of property and sales taxes, and where the money goes.

Said Taylor, “So many of here don’t know what’s happening with the money, and we don’t want any more taxes. We can’t buy groceries, we can’t buy medicines, we can’t buy cars, because we’re paying almost 11 percent in this city and parish in sales taxes.” She added, “We just need to know what is happening with the revenue that is available to this police jury, and I feel the same way about the (Ruston) City Council. There comes a limit when people can just keep paying and paying.”

Taylor also questioned why the parish detention center keeps so many prisoners and needed so much money.

She asked, “Why are so may held before they can be adjudicated? They can’t work, they can’t do anything. Is that our court system, is that our DA, or is that the laws – what is it?”

Jury President Randy Roberson noted that the dedicated 1/4 cent sales tax provided only about half the money needed to operate, and that the money paid by the state to house state prisoners helped pay expenses.

In point of fact, the jail’s budget has doubled since Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone took over operation from LaSalle Corrections several years ago. Most of that increase can be attributed to increased payroll.

See here our news story earlier this year documenting the jail’s budgets.

Juror Skip Russell noted that of every dollar of total property taxes levied in Lincoln Parish, the jury collects only 14 cents, compared to the Lincoln Parish Schools Board’s 52 cents.

Said Russell, “If we need to look at cutting taxes – and I think we always need to look at that – we need to look at a number of different agencies in Lincoln Parish.”

The rollback/roll forward exercise will be repeated at the September 12 meeting for the jury’s dedicated (roads, library) property taxes.

We will be there to cover the meeting.

LPPJ Appoints Treasurer

08/08/2017

Megan Wiens, a Farmerville resident and University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) Business Administration graduate, was appointed Treasurer of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) at last night’s special called meeting. Most recently, she was Business Manager at the Union Parish School Board.

She was one of six finalists interviewed for the job, and one of two who has had prior governmental accounting experience.

Asked why she applied, Wiens said, “I think Lincoln Parish is growing, and it’s something I would be interested in being a part of.”

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Meetings This Week

08/06/2017

Two Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) meeting are set for this week: the regular committee and jury meetings, and a special called meeting for Monday. The Monday meeting is to interview the prospective hires for Parish Treasurer.

Special Meeting – 4:00 PM, Monday, August 7

Agenda

Finance Committee – 6:00 PM, Tuesday, August 8

Agenda

Public Property & Buildings Committee – 6:30 PM, Tuesday, August 8

Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM, Tuesday, August 8

Agenda

All meetings will be held at the Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Six to be Interviewed for LPPJ Treasurer

08/01/2017

Six people will be interviewed over the next few days for the position of Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Treasurer, it was decided at yesterday’s meeting of the body. Nineteen had originally applied.

Parish Administrator Courtney Hall said that the interviews probably couldn’t be completed in time for next week’s regular meeting, and that another special called meeting would be needed to make a final decision.

“There’s probably going to wind up being another special meeting,” Hall said.

There was a bit of discussion about whether the interview meetings would be open meetings, to which Assistant District Attorney Bruce Hampton cautioned that if there was a quorum of jurors at the interview, then that would constitute a formal jury meeting and would have to be open.

He added that an executive session would be legal if the certain issues were to be discussed.

LA RS 42:17 A(1) allows executive sessions if a person’s “character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person” is discussed.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Special Meeting Monday

07/28/2017

A special meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) has been called for Monday, July 31, 5:30 PM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

Is Another Judge Needed in Lincoln/Union?

07/26/2017

At yesterday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission, there was a bit of discussion about how to move cases through the court system in a more timely way, so as to relieve overcrowding at the parish jail.

Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton (who is also a member of the 5 person commission) said that a possible solution would be more court dates, or even the addition of a fourth judge to the district.

Said Belton, “If we had more court days, I think that would help.” He added, “Some of the numbers indicate we may need another judicial judgeship.”

Belton noted that adding another judge would be unlikely because of the state’s poor financial condition.

There was more discussion about pending plans to add about 100 more beds for the facility. The matter will be on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s August agenda, it was said.

Present plans call for the police jury to borrow the estimated $3 million to fund construction from a Rural Development Loan.

Presently, the jail houses 137 state prisoners, and this has resulted in no room for housing local inmates awaiting trial. The overflow local inmates are housed in other area jails that have available space.

The state pays the jail to keep the state prisoners, and that helps defray some of the jail’s operating costs.

To our knowledge, no one has done a study that estimates the operating cost of housing ONLY pretrial inmates and local prisoners, and no state prisoners.

Now, more than half the total jailed (137 of 241) are state inmates. If there were only about 100 local prisoners, food costs would be cut in half, at least, and the number of employees could be reduced significantly.

Nineteen Apply for LPPJ Treasurer Position

07/17/2017

Nineteen individuals have applied for the position of Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Treasurer. Of those, six did not meet minimum qualification.

See here the document detailing job description and qualifications. See here the advertisement for the position.

Of the half-dozen or so that appear to be most qualified, four have Master’s degrees or an MBA. All of that group are college graduates, most from Louisiana Tech University or the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Three of the top group have governmental accounting experience, and all are current residents of North Louisiana. One is a CPA.

Some of the applicants had requested anonymity because of their present employment status, and accordingly, we will respect that request.