Archive for the ‘Ouachita Parish Police Jury’ Category

OPPJ, Continued

01/24/2017

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

01/23/2017

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

01/22/2017

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

09/21/2016

Friends of Ouachita Public Library

BOOK SALE
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)

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday

09/18/2016

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, September 19, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor.

Here is the agenda.

Immediately following the regular meeting, the Finance Committee will meet in the jury conference room adjacent to the large meeting room.

Here is the agenda.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Tonight

09/06/2016

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet tonight (Tuesday, 9/6), 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor

Here is the agenda.

Immediately following the jury meeting, the Finance Committee will meet in the jury conference room adjacent to the jury meeting room.

Here is the agenda.

West Ouachita Road Tax Bonds Authorized

07/06/2016

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) voted 5-1 at last night’s meeting to authorize the sale of up to $10 million of sales tax bonds for the West Ouachita Economic Development District, to be used for road and drainage improvements.

Voting no was Jack Clampit (District B), with the others voting yes: Scotty Robinson (District A), Walt Caldwell (District C), Ollibeth Reddix (District D), Shane Smiley (District E), and Pat Moore (District F).

The bond sale was approved by voters in an April 9 election that also approved a .39% sales tax hike to pay for the bonds.

Clampit explained that while he was not opposed to selling the bonds and starting the construction projects as soon as possible, he thought it would be a good idea to not issue all the bonds at once, and spread out the borrowing over a longer period of time. He added that should an opportunity arise to obtain federal or state grant funds, it would be prudent to have some cash on hand as a match to the grants.

To qualify, most grants require the local government to make a “down payment” for a project up front, or “match.”

Said Clampit, “If we haven’t got match money, inflation is chump change. Once we get through with this $10 million, the only match money you’re going to have is $600 thousand. That’s it.”

Caldwell suggested that projects needed to be done as fast as practicable, otherwise inflation would eat up the available funds.

Robinson said the resolution didn’t mean they had to sell all the bonds at once, but that voters did expect progress on road repair in a timely manner.

“We went to the voters and asked for a tax, with the understanding that if they voted for the tax, we’ll sell bonds and fix roads sooner rather than later.”

In other business, the jury approved an ordinance removing about twenty roads from the parish’s road system. The roads in question were little more than dead end private driveways, most of them serving only one house, it was said.

A couple of people showed up for the public hearing, but were unable to make the case that the roads were used by the general public, and should be maintained with tax money.

West Ouachita Sales Taxes to Increase on 7/1/16

05/17/2016

Sales taxes in Ouachita Parish west of the Ouachita River will go up by $0.0039 (slightly less than 4/10 of one cent) beginning July 1, after the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) unanimously approved at last night’s meeting an ordinance to enact the tax. The money is dedicated to roads and drainage.

Voters approved the levy in an April 9, 2016 election. A $0.0139 (slightly less than 1.4 cents) sales tax for the eastern part of the parish failed that same election.

During the public hearing for the ordinance, no one spoke.

There was extended discussion during the finance committee meeting over the cost of a upgraded electronic door lock system for the Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center.

Director Lamar Anderson said the system would cost $577 thousand. The money would be paid from a capital fund money that originally was budgeted for a roof replacement.

District E’s Shane Smiley asked, “If the roof starts leaking in 2017, what are we gonna do?”

Treasurer Brad Cammack said that the roof did need some maintenance, but that it should hold up for several more years.

Finance Committee Chair Walt Caldwell (District C) asked Cammack to create for the next jury meeting a spreadsheet clarifying the center’s budget situation.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday

05/15/2016

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, May 16, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor.

Here is the agenda.

Civil War Breaks out in Ouachita Courts

04/20/2016

From the Ouachita Citizen:

Judge Sharon Marchman sues other judges, law clerk in federal court

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

The ongoing saga surrounding Stanley Palowsky III’s conflict with Fourth Judicial District Court officials took a turn Tuesday when Judge Sharon Marchman sued four of her colleagues on the bench and law clerk Allyson Campbell among others in U.S. District Court in Monroe.

Marchman’s lawsuit arises from the allegations that Campbell committed payroll fraud and destroyed or concealed court filings submitted by Palowsky in a lawsuit against a former business partner as well as allegations that district court judges covered up Campbell’s activities.

Defendants in Marchman’s lawsuit include Campbell, former state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Shreveport attorney Lawrence Pettiette (Campbell’s attorney), Monroe attorney Brian Crawford (Campbell’s attorney), attorney Jon Guice (judges’ attorney), Judges Carl Sharp, Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo and former Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator.

Marchman said her efforts to “do the right thing and stop the cover-up of Campbell’s payroll fraud and document destruction” led to the defendants’ actions turning her into a “virtual pariah at the courthouse.”

See here the lawsuit.