City of Ruston prepares 2023-24 budget for Council

By Kyle Roberts

Ruston mayor Ronny Walker and his team are preparing to present the fiscal budget for the 2023-24 year at the September City Council meeting.

“We’re describing this as an aggressive budget,” City of Ruston’s chief financial officer Julie Keen said. “We know we have some big projects that are still ongoing that we hope to have completed in the next fiscal year. From a revenue perspective, we are projecting at $115 million, which is a 10 percent increase from last year.”

Walker gave praise to the trend in revenue rising and is pleased with the 10 percent increase.

“It’s been trending upward for the last six years,” Walker said. “Once we passed the sales tax to allow us to start doing these projects and we started really recruiting businesses in town, that when you start to see if coming up.”

Keen gave an overview in a Tuesday meeting with the Lincoln Parish Journal regarding revenue would be coming from along with operating expenditures (which are all included at the bottom of this story).

“There are lot of pieces (to the increase in revenue),” Keen said. “Some of the bigger ones are the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) money on the table of $3.7 million that we’re using to fund the Fire Station No. 2 (on California Ave.). We have the BUILD project, which is the Monroe Street corridor, and then our Streetscapes grant, which will bring in about $7 million.

“Those are the two big projects we hope to wrap up and get off the table.”

Sales taxes increased this past year to $26 million, which is a $2.3 million increase from last year.

“The sales tax increase cam due to a lot of activity late this past year; alcohol sales being one of them,” Keen said. “And we have seen increases just in the last two months that we think are directly related to alcohol sales.”

Other factors that are likely to yield more sales tax revenue include the summer’s Dixie Youth World Series at the Sports Complex, along with restaurants and shopping done in town.

Enterprise funds, which includes water, sewer, electricity, fiberoptic internet, the airport and ambulance, came in at $44 million, which is up $10 million from the previous year.

On the expenditures side, the City of Ruston is mostly proposing spending that will go to workers to give a one percent cost of living increase to go on top of the minimum hourly rate for city workers at $15.43 per hour.

For context, six years ago, the hourly rate was closer to $10 per hour.

“We are excited and happy that we, as a city, are able to bring all of our employees to what is considered a livable wage for Lincoln Parish,” Walker said.

Details from the budget include:

  • Total revenue of $115 million, up $10 million from previous fiscal budget
    • American Rescue Plan – $3.7 million
    • BUILD & Streetscapes grants – $7 million
    • Sales Tax – $26 mm, up $2.3 mm from previous fiscal budget
    • Enterprise Funds – $44 mm, up $9.8mm from previous fiscal budget
  • Total operating expenditures $73mm, up $3.4mm from previous fiscal budget
  • Total capital expenditures $61mm