Questions over funding arise in Ambulance Committee meeting

By Malcolm Butler

Towards the tail end of Thursday’s Ambulance Committee meeting, Dubach mayor Mona Wilson posed a question about financing.

“This is all well and good whether we go with the city (of Ruston Fire) or the other route, but we have to finance this somehow,” said Wilson. “And every meeting the report is ‘we have nothing to comment on. We have nothing to comment on.’ Somebody has to be working on this. Who is working on it and what are they doing?”

Wilson was referring to the fact that for the past month at least, the agenda for the Ambulance Committee meeting has had a Finance Committee Report line. 

And in each of those meetings the report has been – as Wilson stated – basically there is nothing to report yet. 

However, Thursday’s meeting didn’t include a Finance Committee agenda item. And like every other concern associated with the ambulance-rescue, the timetable is getting tight.

The question by Wilson triggered some debate over whether the Ambulance Committee had been tasked with recommending a financial solution to the LPPJ.

“That is something the jury has to work on,” said Lincoln Parish Police Jury President Richard Durrett during the exchange. “And we will be glad to.”

Durrett’s response triggered multiple questions from both Wilson and committee member Dr. Jackie White. 

“So they are going to decide on how we are going to pay for this,” said Wilson. “I thought that was part of our committee’s job?”

“So why did we have a finance committee,” said White. “Were we asked by the police jury to to figure out how to help them pay for it? Or was that not part of it? We had at one time a finance report on the agenda.”

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Administrator Doug Postel – sitting in the back of the room – was asked by Durrett about the questions.

“If you are asking me about financing, my understanding was that was the original intent of this committee,” replied Postel. “(It) was to decide on how we were going to finance the Ruston Fire-Ambulance service. That was the original intent of the committee in my understanding.”

Lewis Jones, who is legal counsel from the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office, provided his insight.

“At that point the first meeting the only player was the city of Ruston,” said Jones. “As I recall my understanding was that Pafford wasn’t interested and neither was Acadiana (Ambulance). So the only question then was how are we going to pay for the service?

“The first couple of meetings when I was in charge of leading them, that’s what we were talking about because that’s all we had. It’s changed since then. But the directive when the committee was created was to form an ambulance service committee. So if you want to figure out financing then I certainly think you have that authority. Ultimately the police jury will have to decide on it.”

So whether the Ambulance Committee makes a recommendation or not, the members of the police jury will be tasked with deciding on the financial component in the very near future. 

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