Police Jury votes to buyout Lincoln Hall lease

By Jim Wilkerson

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Police Jury voted to cancel the lease agreement for Lincoln Hall. In the original contract, signed in 2002, Burton Entertainment agreed to construct a building (Lincoln Hall) on Police Jury property that had the seating capacity of at least 500 people and to maintain said building for a period of thirty years.

Before Tuesday, the lease was to remain in effect until 2032, with the option of a five-year extension. However, the Jury voted to buy the remainder of the lease from Burton Entertainment for a total of $210,000.

Parish Administrator Doug Postel told the Jury, “The opportunity for investment for the Expo (the Lincoln Parish Exhibition Center) with the acquirement of Lincoln Hall is worth consideration…In visiting with Angela Manning, who runs our Expo center, she gets calls on a weekly basis from individuals who would like to use the building for various events.”

According to Postel and Manning, people have called, wanting to rent the building for lunch meetings, school dances, proms, wedding receptions, family reunions, anniversaries, birthday parties, etc.

Before the meeting, Postel circulated a sheet detailing a “conservative” revenue forecast he believes the Police Jury could attain by immediately buying out the lease.

The forecasted gross income is listed at $52,800 annually, $4,400 monthly. Estimated overhead is $13,200 per year, meaning the estimated annual net revenue is $39,600.

This forecast is built on the basis that Lincoln Hall will draw in two weekend rentals each month ($1,000 x 2 = $2,000); two weekday rentals each month ($600 x 2 = $1,200); and four lunch meetings each month ($300 x 4 = $1,200).

“I think these projections are very, very conservative,” Postel said. “And taking that into consideration, it would take us a little over 5 years to recoup the costs of $210,000 that [Carl Ray] Burton is asking to buy out the lease.”

Postel also noted that the facility is 8,400 square feet, meaning that the buyout amounts to approximately $25 feet per square foot. And that price includes all the tables, chairs, kitchen equipment, etc., which must be fully functioning per the buyout agreement.

Once the Police Jury has ownership of the building, the Jury will be responsible for its maintenance.

“Angela [Manning] will, as part of her duties, be the person that manages this and handles the bookings. She’ll be the operator,” Postel explained.

Juror Skip Russell, noting that Manning already had the Expo on her hands, was skeptical that she could handle such an operation without a serious uptick in manpower.

“I can see where the management of this would be very time-consuming and…just take a lot of effort and a lot of manpower,” said Russell.

Manning, on the other hand, is confident in her abilities to run the Expo and Lincoln Hall simultaneously. She also believes that by the Police Jury owning both the Expo and Lincoln Hall, many problems would go away.

“We’ve had several situations where [Lincoln Hall] would have a big event, and [the Expo] would have a Peach Festival Rodeo,” Manning explained. “We would be charging to get in. Their deal was a free situation. We managed to make it through, but…sometimes it would create uncomfortable circumstances because we didn’t know what [Lincoln Hall] was doing.”

Manning did say that there is a probability that she will have to hire more employees to help with Lincoln Hall, meaning more overhead costs. Still, she believes, “All in all, it would work good together.”

In the end, Russell maintained his position that Lincoln Hall is too much for the Police Jury to handle, and he voted “no.” “I just don’t see that it’s going to be that advantageous, and it belongs to us in ten years anyhow,” Russell closed.

It was not enough to convince the rest of the Police Jurors present, who voted 8-1 in favor of buying out the lease. 

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