By Luke Britt/Editor
A special tax election, the 2022 financial audit, an expansion of the parish’s heavy hauler ordinance, an emergency road project and repairs to Scotts Hideaway Road were among the items approved by the Union Parish Police Jury during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday.
During committee meetings earlier in the day, jurors also discussed the possible hiring of a fulltime vehicle mechanic for the Public Works Department, the public sale of used trash dumpsters, changes to the public records policy, and the possible transfer of $2 million to Louisiana National Bank.
The Jury took action on the following items:
- Approved adding a special tax election for the Northeast Union Parish Fire District to the Nov. 18 general election ballot
- Approved the payment of an invoice from Bruckner’s Truck Service for truck repairs in the amount of $11,158
- Approved a request from the Town of Marion to purchase a load of cold mix
- Approved reducing the speed limit for Haile Baptist Church Road to 35 mph
- Approved a motion to declare the Burma Road culvert project an emergency (See BURMA, page 2)
- Approved a motion to pay Max’s Tree Service for bushhogging services in the amount of $33,150
- Approved a motion to accept the results of the 2022 annual financial audit (See AUDIT, page 1)
- Approved the purchase using federal ARPA funds of two John Deere 5060E tractors and two John Deere 520M loaders for a total cost of $93,439.82
- Approved a motion to donate $1,500 to the Keep Union Beautiful organization
- Approved a motion to make repairs to Scott’s Hideaway Road and to invoice Dreher Construction for the cost of those repairs
- Approved a motion to require all garbage trucks that enter Union Parish to obtain heavy hauler permits
- Approved the purchase of up to $100,000 of rock to be used for road construction projects
- Approved a motion authorizing the Public Works Department to remove containers being leased by local businesses or individuals when they fail to make a payment for 90 days and to require payment in full plus a $100 return fee before the container is returned to the customer
- A request for mowing and bushhogging services from Junction City failed on a 4-4 vote
- Approved four motions authorizing several public officials to attend various training programs and conferences
During a meeting of the Finance Committee, a proposal by Juror DeWayne Ramsey to transfer $2 million from the Louisiana Asset Management Pool (LAMP) to Louisiana National Bank inspired considerable interest among jurors and those in the audience.
LAMP is a program that allows Louisiana public entities of all types – towns, cities, police juries, retirement systems, hospitals and many others – to pool their money in a single investment account so they may benefit from the higher interest rates, lower fees and investment management services normally only available to large institutional investors. According to the LAMP 2022 financial statement, 766 Louisiana government entities have more than $3 billion invested in the LAMP fund.
Ramsey pointed out that the earnings on the LAMP account over time have been very similar to an index account offered by LNB. The LAMP account invests its members’ funds internationally, and Ramsey suggested it would be better if those funds were deposited locally where the local economy might benefit.
Juror Ben Bridges said he supported the idea in principle, but also said he wanted more information about how the LNB account’s yield compared to what the parish has been earning with LAMP. Brandon Norris, LNB chief financial officer, agreed to prepare a rate comparison and present it to the jury. Ramsey’s proposal was tabled pending delivery of that rate comparison.
Public Works Director Tommy Durrett asked the jury to consider setting aside money to hire a fulltime vehicle mechanic. Durrett said the PWD has one mechanic each at its two facilities but is still outsourcing so much work that it might be more cost effective to hire a third mechanic.
According to Durrett, the type of mechanics his department requires cost between $50 and $150 per hour. An in-house mechanic might be more cost effective and would likely reduce vehicle downtime, Durrett said.
During a meeting of the Executive Committee, Secretary-Treasurer Paul Strickland announced upcoming changes to the Jury’s public records policy, which include:
- Installation of a workstation in the Police Jury offices that the public can use to access most of the public records the Jury possesses. The new system will allow citizens to access and print copies of public records anytime during normal business hours without having to submit a request or wait for a response.
- Appointment of document custodians at the department level. Currently, Strickland personally handles most public records requests and often acts as a middlewoman between the requestor and the department that actually possesses the requested documents. The policy change will allow those seeking public records to work directly with people who are more familiar with the requested records, Strickland said.
During the Landfill Committee meeting, the committee discussed making retired dumpsters available for sale to parish public entities and the general public. The parish is transitioning to front load dumpsters, and over time, most of the hundreds of rear load dumpsters currently in use will become obsolete.
The committee discussed giving the parish’s towns and other public entities the opportunity to purchase the most serviceable dumpsters, first, before allowing the general public to buy them.