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Several major purchases and new leases were recommended to be scrapped by Franklin Parish Police Jury finance and purchase committee members in order to keep within its budget.

Purchases of storage tanks, a rotary mower, directional road signs and rental of a small excavator received a denial recommendation at Thursday’s and Monday’s meetings. The two separate committees met on different days but mirrored each other’s decisions.

Finance and purchase committee members were instructed at the Police Jury’s regular June 11 meeting to review budget numbers. Committee members will now go before the full Jury at its regular meeting, July 9, with its suggestions.

Sam Wiggins, Police Jury secretary-treasurer, advised committee members of the importance to monitor spending.

“What is budgeted every year is not to spend more than what you bring in,” Wiggins said. “A project carrying you over your budget needs to be a serious project and needs to have a valid reason rather than ‘we would like to have this or like to have that.’”

At the end of last year, Police Jury members made a list of potential purchases for this year. Each purchase had an estimated cost and a budget was produced. Many of the items recently considered were not on the initial list.

Committee members will advise the Police Jury to delay removal of old storage tanks and purchase of new tanks at the parish barn until next year. The move currently saved the Police Jury approximately $150,000.

For the rotary mower, committee members supported the transfer of a five-foot mower from Turkey Creek RV Park to the parish barn where it will be used on various projects.

Committee members also agreed to delay the purchase of one portable shed at Turkey Creek RV Park.

In order to save additional money, Police Jury officials were instructed to only purchase eight stop signs to replenish its sign stockpile. Initially, a sign list had been compiled totaling $12,000.

An excavator lease was nixed by committee members in order to cut expenses. The excavator was to be used to help road crews “catch up” on various projects delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you decide on another lease you need to say where we are going to take it from (in the budget) because you have to reduce another line item to make up that line item,” Wiggins said.

Meanwhile, committee members agreed to move forward on the purchase of a tractor with side cutter.

Earlier this year, the Police Jury was awarded a $83,255 Local Government Assistance Program (LGAP) grant for the purchase of a tractor with side cutter. In order to save money, committee members decided to buy a used tractor for $104,000 from Scott Equipment and pay the reminder of the balance.

Committee members also approved a 12-month lease extension on two current excavators. With the extension, the lease price did not increase.

On another front, committee members tabled further action on Baker’s Landing Boat Ramp until Brogal, Limited Partnership officials could receive estimates for fence work. In the past, the Police Jury annually leased the property surrounding the boat ramp from Bogal, LP for $1,000.

The previous lease ended March 31, 2019.

With a new lease, Police Jury members agreed to close the boat ramp from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31 and partner with Brogal, LP to build a fence around the ramp. Brogal, LP in turn agreed to waive the $1,000 lease charge.

The move to temporarily bar ramp users began when members of Brogal, LP accused hunters of trespassing on their private property and excessive littering. Officials representing the group requested the Police Jury close the ramp and Bakers Cutoff Road to the public for the specified period. Police jurors dismissed closing the road.

According to the proposal to the Police Jury, “There has always been a trash problem in the boat ramp area as well as people camping overnight

in the area. Adjoining landowners as well as Brogal, LP have had continuous problems with hunters trespassing on their private property. The trespassers access the property by boats launched at the Bakers Cutoff Boat Ramp. They pose as fishermen and do fish but have a gun in case they see a deer on the banks of the lake. This has been an ongoing problem for years.”

The Police Jury originally leased the tract of land where the boat ramp is located on May 20, 2010 and renewed the lease on March 31, 2015 for an annual payment of $1,000, according to the proposal.

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