LPPJ Travel Budget Jammed Up

04/10/2019

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.

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Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

04/08/2019

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Note that the meeting will be at the courthouse, instead of the library Events Center. The elevator is back in service, we have been advised.

Here are the meeting times and agendas:

Personnel – 6:30 PM
agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
agenda

School Retirement Incentive Plan Okayed

04/07/2019

Claiming a potential savings of over $200 thousand this year in personnel costs, Lincoln Parish School District’s Assistant Superintendent Lisa Bastion urged the School Board to adopt an incentive plan to encourage several qualified employees to retire.

The plan was adopted unanimously.

The action came at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board.

Said Bastion, “We have about 30 people in our district who have completed DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan), or will complete DROP this summer. In this discussion, we realized that we have identified four people which would not have to be replaced. So, through attrition, if these four people accepted this incentive, we would save $212 thousand this year.”

“We have talked about setting aside up to $10 thousand – paying a $10 thousand incentive bonus for early retirement, but these people would have to meet the qualifications and have to apply.”

She went on to say if no one applied, the cost savings would be through attrition, or not replacing personnel that retire or resign.

The district hires 60 to 100 new employees each year, according to Superintendent Mike Milstead.

The plan would take applications for the incentive late this month, and would pay out the money in June.

Ruston’s Audit Delivered Monday Night

04/02/2019

Ruston’s annual audit was reported at Monday night’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen, and it showed no findings and had an unmodified opinion. That means the financial statements have no material misstatements, and that the auditor has can state that with a high level of assurance.

Jerrod Tinsley, of Heard, McElroy, & Vestal, LLC, said “…the financial statements are materially correct in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.”

The report covered the fiscal year from 10/1/2017 through 9/30/2018.

He added, “Laura gave me a clean set of books, and that should be noted.”

Earlier, City Treasurer Laura Hartt reported that the sales tax fund collected $18.4 million for the year, a slight increase over the year before. She added that the city’s long-term debt at the time of the audit was $79.9 million.

Alderman Jim Pearce asked about total revenue and expenses.

Hartt said that revenues were at $71 million and expenses were $53 million. She added that the fund balance as of the audit date was $14.8 million, down about $3 million from the year before.

Retirement Talk @ Lincoln Schools

04/01/2019

Several long-time employees at the Lincoln Parish School Board may be retiring soon, if a memo circulating among board members is any indication. The memo is dated 3/29/19, and lists as the subject “Consider adoption of a one-time retirement incentive for 2019 only.”

In an effort to reduce some recurring expenses, the Board will consider offering a oneĀ­ time salary incentive to individual employees based on having completed DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) and 25 or more years of experience. This incentive would be capped at a total of $100,000 for 10 individuals who qualify. If more than 10 individual employees meeting this criterion decide for this option, then those leaving through attrition and others that have the largest impact to the budget would be given first consideration.

See here the complete memo.

The board will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, April 2), 10:30 AM, Choudrant High School, 2555 Hwy 80, Choudrant. The Building & Grounds Committee will meet at 10:00 AM.

Here are the agendas.

Ruston City Council Tomorrow

03/31/2019

Ruston’s City Council will meet Monday, April 1, 2019, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.

Very Small Change in Sumlin Case

03/27/2019

Yesterday afternoon’s hearing on former Louisiana State Representative William Sumlin’s 3 1/2 year-old case of indecent behavior with juvenile(s) saw a slight change from the other many times the issue was delayed.

Sumlin’s attorney, Monroe’s LaValle Salomon said he was withdrawing a motion to strike that he had filed early in the case. He added that there were several other motions pending that needed resolution, and that once again he was requesting a delay.

Chief Felony Prosecutor Lewis Jones had no objection to the delay, and Division B Judge Tommy Rogers granted the request.

We will be at the next hearing to report what happens in the people’s Third Judicial District Court at 1:30 PM, June 25, 2019.

Audit: LSU Prof paid for no Work

03/19/2019

LSU faculty member was paid over $400K over 3 years without working, according to state audit
By Will Sentell – The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

A member of the faculty for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine knowingly accepted over $400,000 in salary and benefits without doing the work over 38 months, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said Monday.

Management of the school also failed to take sufficient action to address the lack of work, Purpera said.

School leaders did not dispute the gist of the report.

“We agree with the finding that the faculty member knowingly failed to perform his duties for LSU for a significant period of time,” Joel D. Baines, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, said in a written response.

“When asked to provide documentation to demonstrate fulfilling his duties to LSU since he submitted the last grant proposal in February, 2015 the faculty member was unable to provide any documentation,” according to Purpera’s report.

He was directed to appear at the school for the fall, 2018 semester and perform his duties but had not done so as of Sept. 29 of last year.

The faculty member was still employed by LSU as of Jan. 24 of this year.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor – LSU Audit

Solar Energy Plant to Locate in Simsboro

03/13/2019

If other Lincoln Parish taxing authorities follow the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s action, a 50-acre array of electricity generating solar panels will be constructed near Simsboro, at the intersection of LA Hwy 150 and LA Hwy 563.

Joule Energy, LLC, a New Orleans based designer of solar and LED lighting systems, plans to install over 18 thousand individual panel modules that would generate about 4.5 megawatts of power. That power would be sold to local utilities.

At last night’s meeting, Joule was seeking an industrial tax exemption that would exempt the company from 80% of local property taxes.

Robert Schmidt, Joule’s President, said that without the exemption, the facility couldn’t be built. He noted that even with the exemption, the company would pay about $14 thousand annually in property tax.

The acreage is now pastureland, which only pays about $200 to $500 annually.

“It would be a significant increase in the revenue – tax receipts,” Schmidt said.

The jury unanimously approved the exemption.

Schmidt said he would be asking other Lincoln Parish tax authorities for the same exemption.

Prior to the jury meeting, the Personnel/Benefits Committee was set to meet, but was unable to muster a quorum.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Meets Tuesday

03/11/2019

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, March 12, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor. Here are the agendas

Personnel/Benefits Committee – 6:30 PM
agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
agenda