Archive for the ‘Ouachita Parish Police Jury’ Category

And Just Like That – No Free Ride for Foster Campbell @ PSC


Long-time readers of Lincoln Parish News Online will recall our coverage for several years of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. Since 2007, District E has been represented by Shane Smiley. He served as the body’s President much of that time. That district covers much of North Monroe and the Swartz area.

Yesterday, Smiley filed as a candidate for the Fifth District of Louisiana’s Public Service Commission, challenging incumbent Foster Campbell.

Campbell, 73, is a career politician. He first won election to the PSC in 2003. Prior to that, for 26 years he had been a state senator from the 36th Senate District. Campbell has also run for U. S. Congress, U. S. Senate, and Louisiana Governor.

Smiley is a Republican and Campbell is a Democrat.

Also notable is another name from the OPPJ, Scotty Robinson.

Robinson yesterday filed as a candidate for U. S. Congress, Fifth District.


When do the Politicians Take a Pay Cut?


Over the last six weeks, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands of those have been our fellow Louisiana citizens.

As we had predicted, local governments have begun to trim their payrolls, because their tax revenues have been vaporized by shutdowns. School districts, police juries, and cities have furloughed employees.

Have any local politicians volunteered to cut his/her pay? Very few, if any.

In any of the last month’s public meetings we’ve been to, or watched online, never has that subject come up.

City councils? Police jurors? School board members? Judges? District attorneys? Senators? Representatives? Sheriffs?

So when will our “public servants” show they are really willing to share the pain that the people who pay their salaries are now enduring?

Local Government Layoffs Soon?


Unlike the Federal Government, The State of Louisiana and local governments cannot print money. They must rely on current revenues to meet expenses.

Lincoln Parish local budgets, with which we are intimately familiar, rely on sales taxes for a large percentage of revenue. The City of Ruston, in particular, funds all of the new 1.5% tax on restaurants and hotels.

With Gov. John Bel Edwards order shuttering restaurants all across the Bayou State, he has vaporized a huge revenue stream for local and state governments. Tourism will go away in the blink of an eye.

The largest expense component for government is payroll, in some cases making up 85% of expenses.

Many teachers probably thought closing the schools would amount to a month-long paid vacation. They perhaps should spend their time updating their resumes.

Used to be, having a government job was seen as having a lifetime guarantee of employment. You had to really mess up to get fired. Great retirement and medical benefits, too.

That hayride is about to end.

OPPJ Pulls ULM Tax from Agenda


Citing a written request from a University of Louisiana at Monroe booster, Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley last night removed from the jury’s agenda a proposal to call a tax election on the University’s behalf.

George Schaeffer signed the letter where he claims to be acting on behalf of ULM President Nick Bruno.

However, Schaeffer has no official connection with ULM that we can find, nor does he appear to be on the school’s payroll.

The letter was sent via email from ULM’s Office of Marketing and Communications.

Wrote Schaeffer:

Dr. Bruno and I spoke several times over the weekend, and we both agree that our hope of sharing our vision for growth has been turned into an unfortunate and unprofessional social media debate that is both harmful and divisive for all.

The process of notifying the public of an election call required a 30-day gap prior to our being able to present the plan at a meeting of the Police Jury. Unfortunately, this resulted in an enormous amount of misinformation being spread on social media about the plan that must be clarified. To be fair, there have also been some legitimate concerns raised that also must be addressed before we move forward. Dr. Bruno agrees with me that there is not enough time under our present schedule to adequately address these concerns. For this reason, I respectfully request that you withdraw the Vision 2031 proposal from today’s agenda.

He continued:

To be clear, we are not abandoning the millage concept or proposal. We also believe a vote of the people should be the proper outcome for the public interest. We will review our timing and approach, seek additional input, and wait for our next best opportunity to convince Ouachita voters that growth, economic prosperity, and a better quality of life are obtainable for all with a meaningful plan and vision.

See here the letter.

The tax plan would have increased Ouachita Parish property taxes by 5 mils for 30 years. An estimated $150 million would have been taken from taxpaying property owners over the life of the tax. Plans for use of the money were detailed in this ULM brochure.

No representatives of ULM were at last night’s meeting, but it appeared that several people opposed to the plan were in the audience.

Smiley remarked that since the item was not on the agenda, public comment on the issue would be moot.

“Related to that – what that item is, is the ULM proposal that was to be discussed tonight. About Noon today, we were contacted by email by ULM and were asked to remove that proposal from our agenda,” he said.

Smiley continued, “There will be no vote by the jury, no discussion or action taken up on that matter.”

District F’s Pat Moore asked Smiley to consider allowing those who came to the meeting to speak, but Smiley said that since no one from ULM was there to present their views, he would prefer to not to have the discussion at that time.

Later, the jury approved without discussion a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center.

See here the document.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Tomorrow


It’s been a while since we’ve covered a meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, but a couple of items on tomorrow night’s agenda have stimulated our interest.

Late last year, University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) President Nick Bruno talked the jury into adding an agenda item thus: “Notice of Intent to Call an Election”

The Ouachita Citizen’s Zach Parker picked up on the item and had this front-page story here: ULM unveils tax proposal, questions raised

In another story last week, Parker wrote that the proposal has virtually no chance of passing, as most of the jurors had received overwhelming opposition from their constituents.

Bruno, however, has also been busy, emailing ULM employees and asking them to be at tomorrow’s meeting.

Here’s the brochure published detailing where the money is to go.

Success for the ULM plan would no doubt tempt other Louisiana higher education institutions to try the same scheme in their parishes. Lincoln Parish has two universities – Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech.

Another item on the agenda is renewal of a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center. As Lincoln Parish has no facilities to house underage inmates, Green Oaks has been used in the past for that role.

The meeting will be at 5:30 PM tomorrow (1/22/19) at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor. We’ll be there.

Here’s the agenda.

Ouachita Juror wants “small fee” on Sparta users


Clampit touts ‘small fee’ on water users

By Zach Parker |

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Vice President Jack Clampit says water users in the 16 parishes that tap the Sparta Aquifer as a groundwater resource should pay a “small fee.”

The revenues from a water meter fee or pumping fee could fund any water conservation efforts undertaken by the Louisiana Sparta Ground Water Commission. Clampit is the commission’s treasurer.

“There should be a small fee to help preserve the life of the Sparta,” said Clampit, who represents the Police Jury on the Sparta commission. “The amount of that fee should be set by the Legislature, not by the Commission.”

Read the complete story here. Subscription required.

OPPJ, Continued


Last night’s meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) began calmly enough, with a solicitation from Monroe bond attorney Bill Boles, Jr., who asked that his firm be considered as counsel when the jury sold bonds to be financed by the prospective sales tax.

Said Boles, “We would like the opportunity to work with you on that tax. We are a local option, with all due all due respect to the folks in the New Orleans firm that has been doing that.”

A couple of the jurors promised that Boles’ firm would be considered.

The jury convened as a committee of the whole (East Ouachita Economic Development District) to consider the resolution calling for the tax hike election. Once the motion was made and seconded, things began to unravel.

District E’s Shane Smiley questioned whether sufficient support had been lined up to support the new tax.

Said Smiley, “I have to ask, we have a number of groups in the parish that have a lot of good leadership. But in a matter like this – something that is crucial – they were completely silent. And I’d really like to hear from the OBA (Ouachita Business Alliance) and other groups – I’d like for them to let me know that they’re going to step forward and really put their necks out and let folks know how important this tax is.”

Jury President Scotty Robinson (District A) said that future road construction on the west side might encourage support for the tax, but he had doubts about an April vote.

“My personal opinion, and I’m just one vote, I still thinks it’s a little early,” he said. “I think a few more months, then the fall elections – December would be better,” he added.

That’s when the roof fell in.

Pat Moore (District F): “We have two police jurors who are not here tonight. Would it be a problem if we tabled and give them an opportunity to have a voice?”

Jury Attorney Jay Mitchell noted that to meet the legal notice requirements for an April vote, a decision would have to be made immediately.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, the two available election dates for this fall are Saturday, October 14 and Saturday, November 18.

With that, the jury adjourned the committee meeting, reconvened the jury meeting, and took care of some other routine matters. They reconvened the committee and took the vote we reported last night – a 2-2 tie. Motions with tie votes fail.

Earlier in the meeting two road projects for the west side were discussed, and further work was authorized.

A $1.4 million bid for the rebuild of Slocum Road was approved, and authorization to bid a project for Caples Road was given. Estimated budget for that project is $1.75 million.

Also discussed was application for capital outlay money from the state to repair the outflow drain pipes of the River Styx Pump Station. That structure is located on Horseshoe Bend Road, just west of Ouachita Christian School. Water is pumped from River Styx into the Ouachita River.

However, local matching funds for that project might not be available if the planned tax is not passed.

Likely, we will be hearing a lot about this tax throughout the rest of the year.

Tax Call Defeated @ OPPJ


A Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) resolution that would have called for a 4/29/17 special tax election for that part of Ouachita Parish east of the river was defeated at tonight’s meeting on a 2-2 tie vote. The proposed 1.39% sales tax increase would have been dedicated for roads and drainage.

A similar tax for the western part of the parish passed last April by 16 votes.

Here’s the vote breakdown.

District A Scotty Robinson – No
District B Jack Clampit – Yes
District C Walt Caldwell – Absent
District D Ollibeth Reddix – Absent
District E Shane Smiley – No
District F Pat Moore – Yes

We will have additional reporting tomorrow on how it happened, plus the other business conducted at the meeting.

OPPJ to Try East Ouachita Sales Tax Hike Again


The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will try again to hike the sales tax in Ouachita Parish east of the Ouachita River. The call for a Saturday, April 29 election to increase sales taxes by 1.39% is set for a vote of the jury at tomorrow night’s (Monday, 1/23/17, 5:30 PM) meeting at the Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.

Shall the East Ouachita Economic Development District (the “District”), be authorized to levy a tax of 1.39% (the “Tax”) for a period of twenty-five (25) years, commencing July 1, 2017, upon the sale at retail, the use, the lease or rental, the consumption, and the storage for use or consumption, of tangible personal property and on sales of services within the Parish as defined by law (an estimated $2,650,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the Tax for an entire year), with the proceeds of the Tax (after paying costs of collecting the Tax) to be dedicated and used for the purposes of undertaking economic development projects consisting of road, drainage and related infrastructure improvements for the benefit of the District?

Last April, voters defeated the same proposal 701 to 625. A similar tax for the western half of the parish was approved by those voters.

Here is the complete agenda.

Ouachita Parish Library Book Sale


Friends of Ouachita Public Library

Friday & Saturday
September 23 & 24
9:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m.
West Ouachita Branch
188 Highway 546, West Monroe
(1/2 mile north of Cheniere-Drew exit off I-20)