Story by staff reporter Nora Drenner
Roads and purchasing a ballpark were the hot topics during the January meeting of the Sabine Parish Police Jury.
During the nine-member board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15, spending additional dollars on road maintenance instead of purchasing a ballpark in Converse was mulled after district seven board member Ricky Sepulvado announced the ballpark appraisal totaled $141,000 which was higher than the asking price of $71,000. Sepulvado further noted the owners said they would honor the asking price.
For several years, the ballpark has been privately owned and operated with local youth teams throughout the parish using the two regulation fields.
Discussion regarding the purchase ensued after District One board member Bo Stewart commented, he understood the need for the ballpark, however, dollars were needed for road improvements to get to the ballpark.
The consensus of remaining board members was that their job was more than fixing roads. “Do we want to be in the ballpark business?” asked district eight board member Kenneth Ebarb. He answered no, citing it is the police jury’s responsibility to consider the needs of the entire community.
District Four board member William Ruffin concurred, saying the police jury must take care of more than the roads. District Two board member Richard McCormick also commented on the importance of taking care of the youth.
Additionally, Sepulvado, said he was willing to use district seven road funds for the purchase of the ballpark, however, he was unable to do so because those funds were earmarked for roads.
Following discussion, the motion to purchase the Converse ballpark passed with eight ayes, and one nay by Stewart.
In other business, the police jury:
–ADOPTED the 2020 budget with revenues of all funds totaling $14,360,667 and expenditures of all funds totaling $15,528,625. President McCormic noted the police jury was not spending more than it was taking in because there were dollars left over from the previous year.
–APPROVED a salary increase for the courthouse maintenance supervisor, noting that increase had been inadvertently left off when increases had been approved for other parish employees. The raise took effect Jan. 16.
–REFERRED a request to add an additional some 400 feet of Cannon Road in Many into the parish- maintained road system to the road committee for recommendation.
–HIRED Dees Gardner, Certified Public Accountants, LLC, to perform the 2019 annual financial audit at a fee not to exceed $38,500 and $4,000 to perform the agreed upon statewide procedures. Noted by the board was a reduction of $3,000 for the same work performed the previous year. Additionally, the board commented that when the audit went to bid a few years ago, Gardner had the lowest bid and they were happy with the work performed.
–AWARDED the construction contract for Louisiana Community Development Block Grant (LCDBG) street improvements to Regional Construction LLC as the company was the lowest bidder at $320,357.75. Estimated out of pocket expenses for the police jury is $50,000. LCDBG is a state funded grant program that requires receiving parishes to pay administrative and engineering fees to receive the grant dollars. Additionally, the parish has no say in regard to which streets and bridges can be improved with the grant dollars. Federal statutory requirements based on low- and moderate-income guidelines are the driving force. “They tell us what roads,“ said Ruffin. This year, roads in ward four have been chosen.
–TABLED a request to consider fees for non- indigent burials at -Fender Cemetery to give to the cemetery committee time to bring recommendations and parameters to the board for contemplation.
–GAVE THE NOD to advertise for bids for the purchase of three water pumps at t the landfill.
–AUTHORIZED the payment of approved bills.
–SAID YES to transferring $237,000 in sales tax proceeds to the transportation fund.
All board members—Bo Stewart, Mike McCormic, Charlie Brown, William Ruffin, Jeff Davidson, Eric Garcie, Ricky Sepulvado, Kenneth Ebarb, and Randy Byrd were present.