Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish Police Jury’ Category

Letter to the Editor from Sheila Bordelon



Lincoln Library Millage Set to Increase


Though no vote was taken at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), the consensus of the body was that the property tax millage that funds the Lincoln Parish Library should be increased for the 2019 tax year to 4.65 mils, from the 2018 rate of 3.2 mils. The present millage collects about $1.5 million/year, while the 4.65 rate will collect about $2.26 million/year, according to Parish Treasurer Holly Lowry.

The rate will be formally proposed at the August meeting of the jury, and a public hearing will precede the vote. Other millages will remain at 2018 levels, Parish Administrator Courtney Hall said.

See here the complete list.

The issue generated quite a bit of discussion, and to fully understand, some background is necessary.

In the fall, 2010 tax election, a 5.99 mil library tax was approved by Lincoln Parish voters. That tax will expire next year, and will be resubmitted for voter approval. The first year after the election, it collected about $2 million, roughly in line with library expenditures.

As the parish added more taxable property, and with reassessments, a fund surplus developed. In 2014, the jury decided to trim the millage to try and keep income in line with expenditures.

In 2017 and 2018, it was trimmed again, in a effort to spend some of the fund balance, instead of taking the money from taxpayers. As of 6/30/19, that fund balance is about $2 million, a little less than one years’ operating expense. That is in line with what auditors recommend as prudent fiscal practice.

Hall explained, “The library had a very substantial fund balance, approaching $5 million. The plan was over a course of several years, to roll that millage back in order to use that fund balance and get it down to a reasonable level of approximately a year’s operating reserve. We’ve reached the point now where it’s time to stabilize that millage where they have a reasonable fund balance.”

He added, “When you were collecting 5.99, you were collecting much more than you were spending. So your fund balance was continuing to get larger and larger every year.”

Library expenditures have remained relatively stable, ranging from about $2 million in 2011 to today’s $2.4 million.

Library Director Vivian McCain and Board of Control Chair Augusta Clark suggested that the maximum 5.99 millage be levied for 2019.

A figure has to published this week in the parish’s official journal, as a thirty day notice has to be given prior to the public hearing.

Earlier in the meeting, the jury got some bad news.

Approximately $1 million in severance tax revenues from oil and gas production won’t be received this year, and maybe not for the next couple of years.

A Louisiana Department of Natural Resources program (Severance Tax Relief Program) allows “suspension or reduction of severance taxes due on production from a qualifying well for a variable time period depending on the category.”

The $1 million represents about 35% of the general fund budget, so some serious trimming will have to be done, it appears.

The general fund has a balance of about $3.8 million.

The first casualty is the $400-$500 thousand that is transferred yearly into the Courthouse Capital Fund.

That fund is nominally used for repairs to parish-owned buildings, but has also been used recently for jail repairs and horse barns.

Millage Renewal Discussion on Police Jury Agenda


An agenda item labeled “Millage Renewal Discussion (2019) is on the agenda for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Tuesday night meeting.

The meeting is set for 7:00 PM, Tuesday, July 9, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

There will also be a meeting of the jury’s Personnel/Benefits Committee at 6:45 PM.

Here’s that agenda.

LPPJ/Ruston Agreement to Cover Work Already Done


The cooperative endeavor agreement between the City of Ruston and the Lincoln Parish Police Jury pertaining to tornado debris cleanup is for work that has already been done, and not for any new work, it was said at last night’s meeting of the jury’s Public Works Committee.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall said that in the immediate aftermath of last April’s tornado, the jury dispatched several crews with boom trucks to help open streets and roads within the city limits.

Said Hall, “This agreement that you have here is really a post-event agreement. We actually were in the City of Ruston, on my directive, at their request, like a week or so after the storm.”

He added, “What we need to do in order to be able to capture any costs that we incurred, and that the city incurred – since we’ve gotten the presidential disaster declaration… one thing that they require is a written agreement between any and all entities and private contractors. If you don’t have those, you might be hung out on a limb on trying to get your reimbursements.”

Asked if a retroactive agreement might cause issues with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Hall said that usually they were amenable to such deals, as it wouldn’t make sense to delay emergency work while waiting on paperwork.

Bobby Bennett (District Three) asked about the procedure for payment.

Said Hall, “This particular agreement will allow the police jury, who sent personnel and equipment in to assist the city, to be able to claim that time, manpower, equipment, fuel as costs for reimbursements.”

The committee voted unanimously to adopt the agreement.

The committee also fielded requests from the Village of Choudrant and the Town of Dubach for street repair and drainage work.

Those were also approved.

Perhaps the most important event of last night was the return of District Seven juror Jody Backus, who has been absent for several months. Last fall, he was diagnosed with cancer, and since that time has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy treatment.

Thanking everyone for their prayers and well-wishes, Backus added, “I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior for pulling me through this time. I finished my treatment four weeks ago yesterday – my last chemo – the doctor says I’m clean.”

The Parks, Recreation & Tourism Committee heard from Nadel and Gussman VP Joe Anderson, who was negotiating to buy 600 thousand barrels of surface water from the Lincoln Parish Park lake. That amount of water would lower the lake about four to five feet, if no further rains occur, he said.

The water is for fracking several oil/gas wells the company has drilled.

However, the upside is that the park would receive about $150 thousand, which would be used to make park improvements.

Anderson noted that the company had bought water from the park several times previously, but it had been in the winter and spring, so the lake refilled prior to summer usage.

Even though he had other sources for water, Anderson said he would rather buy from the parish so the money could benefit the public.

The committee unanimously approved the sale.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury to Help City with Tornado Cleanup


A proposed cooperative endeavor agreement between the City of Ruston and the Lincoln Parish Police Jury would call for the parish to furnish trucks and drivers to help with city’s cleanup from tornado damage suffered last April.

The item is on the jury’s Public Works Committee agenda at tomorrow’s (Tuesday, 6/11) regular meeting of the jury and its committees.

Here are the terms:

A. City Obligations:
1. Organize handling efforts (bottom of page cut off).
2. Provide seven (7) trash trucks and up to five (5) dump trucks and loaders.
3. Provide fuel for all City and Parish trucks.

B. Police Jury Obligations:
1. Provide up to four (4) insured trash trucks and drivers for handle debris removal and disposal.
2. Provide all Landfill tickets to City to claim in national disaster declaration with FEMA.
3. Claim all labor for services on the disaster declaration claims with FEMA.
4. Burn or otherwise dispose of all Debris at the Landfill at no cost to the City.

See here the complete document.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be at the Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here are the meeting times and agendas:

Public Property and Buildings Committee – 6:00 PM

Parks, Recreation & Tourism Committee – 6:15 PM

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Pullen Joins Race for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor


Lincoln Parish Police Juror Walter Pullen today announced his candidacy for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor in the fall election.

Pullen said his decision came after prayerful consideration and at the encouragement of constituents and local business leaders. He said he believes being assessor would give him an opportunity to better serve the taxpayers of Lincoln Parish.

For seven years, Pullen has served on the board of review for the tax assessments as a member of the police jury, and said he’s noticed “with great alarm, the ever-increasing number of individual tax payers who year in and year out come before the jury to appeal their property tax assessments.”

Pullen said he believes “it’s time we put ‘fair’ back in ‘fair market value’ for property evaluations.”
After reviewing the most recent Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report, Pullen said he noticed that even though the assessor’s office operates on an annual budget of less than $1 million a year, the office has over $3 million in surplus funds.

Pullen said that beginning on day one of his administration as tax assessor, his No. 1 priority would be putting the individual homeowner and tax payer first.

Furthermore, Pullen said he plans to begin immediately returning at least a million dollars of the surplus funds back to the taxpayers of Lincoln Parish.

Pullen came to Ruston to attend Louisiana Tech in 1984—where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree—and has never left.

“Ruston and Lincoln Parish are where my heart is,” he said.

Upon graduating college, Pullen entered into the pharmaceutical industry where he worked for a successful start-up company. During his career, Pullen was a well-known sales trainer, sales supervisor, district manager and regional manager. He managed multi-state districts with revenues well exceeding the annual budget of the assessor’s office.

After retiring from the pharmaceutical industry, Pullen dedicated his time to the police jury, where he has served two terms.

As a police juror, Pullen said he has helped saved taxpayers almost a million dollars through his position as chairman of the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee.

He said one of the things he’s most proud of in all of his years on the police jury is that he’s never voted for an increase in property taxes and has helped lead the charge to cut the total property millages every year for the past six years.

Pullen said his drive to give back to the community is what inspired him to run for the police jury in the fall of 2011. Now, this need to serve is what’s compelled him to run for tax assessor, he said.
Pullen said he has the professional training and educational background for assessor’s position, and he would like the opportunity to bring those skills to the office of tax assessor.

He and his wife, Heather Pullen, have raised three children—Auldon, Addison and Brittain — while living in Ruston.

Both Auldon and Addison graduated from Ruston High School, and the youngest child, Brittain, attends Ruston High now where he is enrolled in the special education program.

Through the years, Pullen has been involved in leading adult and youth Sunday school classes and leading youth programs at Trinity United Methodist Church, where he and his family are members, coaching youth sports teams, and volunteering throughout the community.

“The community of Ruston has been such a blessing to me and my family, I’ve been inspired to return that kindness through service to my community,” Pullen said. “I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the Ruston community and everything the people of Ruston have done for my family and me.”

He said that generosity had led him to feel called to serve in a way he feels most beneficial: local government.

Jury Hears Tornado Report


“This is the largest disaster that’s ever hit Lincoln Parish.”

So said Kip Franklin, Director of Lincoln Parish’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness to last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), after his report on the events following last month’s tornado event.

Franklin gave credit to area first responders who were on the scene within minutes of the storm.

Also singled out for praise were Solid Waste Superintendent Cary Outley, Road Superintendent Jerry Doss, and their crews.

Both Franklin and jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted that Outley and the landfill crew worked many overtime hours dawn to dusk in the days following the storm.

We can attest first-hand to Doss’ arrival at daylight with a trackhoe and fleet of dump trucks to begin clearing the streets in the Burgessville Road area, which had significant damage.

Annette Straughter (District 12) said the Barnett Springs area of her district received significant damage.

“I just cannot thank you guys enough. I really appreciate all the work you did,” she said.

During the Solid Waste & Recycling Committee meeting, there was a bit of discussion about litter pickup.

Bobby Bennett (District 3) said he had been getting complaints from constituents. He suggested that the two man crew that has been hired by the jury might be more efficient if furnished with four-wheelers.

Others seemed cool to the idea, noting that liability might be an issue, and that some of the parish road ditches are too rough to be traversed by the vehicles.

It was decided to see how other parishes handle the issue.

In the past, it was a common sight to see parish prisoners working litter pickup, but most of the prisoners are now farmed out on work release programs.

Sheriff’s candidate George Webb (who was at the meeting) promised that if elected, he would see that adequate manpower would be available for that duty.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, May 14), Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here are the committee meeting times and their agendas.

Sold Waste & Recycling Committee – 6:00 PM

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

McBride Announces for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor


Billy Mac McBride, Jr. announced today that he is a candidate for Assessor of Lincoln Parish.

McBride is the Chief Deputy Assessor for Lincoln Parish. As a Certified Deputy Assessor, McBride is involved in the valuation process of land, buildings, drilling rigs, oil and gas wells, cell towers, pipelines, and all general businesses as well as overseeing the daily operation of the Assessor’s office.

“Lincoln Parish has blessed me with so many opportunities,” McBride said.

“I’m running because I want to continue serving the people of Lincoln Parish. My wife and I are proud to call Lincoln Parish home.”

McBride said his campaign platform will be to work with all residents and businesses to ensure that assessments are fair and equitable. McBride added that both his experience in the private sector and in the government will give him a foundation to address the issues facing Lincoln Parish.

“Lincoln Parish is one of the brightest lights when it comes to economic development and entrepreneurship,” McBride said.

“ I want to work with our elected officials and community leaders to ensure that Lincoln Parish’s economic progress continues to grow stronger in the next few years.”

McBride was the Ruston OTASCO store Assistant Manager before he began working for the Weyerhaeuser Plywood Division in 1986. After 23 years with Weyerhaeuser, he accepted a position at the Lincoln Parish Assessor’s Office where he has served for the past 10 years.

McBride is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). He is a Certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor (CLDA) with over 240 hours of IAAO classroom education.

McBride is a graduate of Lincoln Leadership XXXII. He is a member of Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Rotary Club, Ruston Community Men’s Shed, NRA, and National Wild Turkey Federation.

Billy Mac and Janet Hall McBride have been married for 35 years. They have two children, Ashley McBride and Adam McBride, who is married to Tiffany Brown McBride. Billy Mac and Janet have two grandchildren, Tripp, age six, and Harper, age two.

For the past 10 years Janet has operated her own business, Janet McBride Court Reporting, in Ruston.
Billy Mac and Janet are members of First Baptist Church in Ruston.

Billy Mac enjoys spending time with his family and working with wood to create walking canes, furniture and other items.

LPPJ Travel Budget Jammed Up


A planned junket to Las Vegas for the annual National Association of Counties (NACO) convention by some Lincoln Parish Police Jury members has run up against budget constraints.

The revelation came at last night’s meeting of the jury, during the monthly budget review.

Parish Treasurer Holly Lowry noted that over $6600 of the $10 thousand budgeted for travel had already been spent in the first three months of the year.

Said Lowry, “That money (the $6600) is made up of $2400 for police jury conference registration at the state conference and $3900 on travel. There are three jurors who are attending NACO, and the projected cost for their registration and hotel is $4700, which will take that line item over budget. Historically, the police jury has said that once we’ve spent the budget amount, the people are on their own for those costs.”

“Last year, we only had one or two jurors attend the state convention, whereas this year we had six. So that skews the cost higher than what we had spent last year. As a jury, you guys are going to need to decide whether to amend the budget – you don’t have to decide it tonight – but whether to amend the budget, or to have the jurors that are going to NACO travel on their own.”

“Estimated cost of airfare for each of the registrants is $400 apiece. And then outside of that they will need meal money for when their at the conference. That’s an action item you guys will need to take at the next meeting – and I just wanted to bring that up.”

See here the document.

At the start of the meeting, a procedural move occurred that we’ve not seen in the ten years of covering the jury.

Both President Randy Roberson and Vice-President Joe Henderson were absent, so a President Pro Tempore had to be elected.

There were four nominations – Theresa Wyatt, David Hammond, Walter Pullen, and Annette Straughter. All save Pullen were reluctant to take the gavel, so he was unanimously elected.

The jury also approved a request from the City of Grambling for ditching at several locations.

During the earlier Personnel/Benefits Committee meeting, Keith Barnes was nominated to the full jury to be reappointed to the Greater Ward One Waterworks District, and Mary Jo Cooper was nominated to be on the Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control.

On hand at the meeting was Sheriff’s candidate Randall Hermes to do a little glad-handing.

He noted that he had no plans to privatize the operation of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, and that any contracts in force with the incumbent sheriff would be honored.