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Ruston mayor responds to ambulance issue

Walker: Jury must vote unanimously to get city back to negotiating table
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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It would take a unanimous vote of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury to bring the city of Ruston back to the negotiating table for rural emergency medical and rescue service, Mayor Ronny Walker said Monday.

“If they’re interested in talking, they need to have a unanimous vote saying they want the city to come back,” Walker said.

Walker was reacting to statements made Friday by one member of the parishwide Ambulance Service Committee and two police jurors that they want Ruston to consider rejoining the list of possible ambulance and rescue providers for 2023.

Committee member Dr. Jackie White said during Friday’s committee meeting she plans to talk informally with city officials returning to the talks. The committee is charged with making a recommendation to the jury on how to provide ambulance and rescue service in the parish once the jury’s current contract with the city expires at midnight Dec. 31.

The panel has only two proposals for 2023: a $360,000 offer from Pafford EMS for ambulance service and a $643,000 proposal from the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District. That totals just over $1 million.

Ruston was in the mix earlier with a one-time $645,604 proposal for both ambulance and rescue in 2023, but the jury voted down the offer in July. At that time, the fire district had not released its cost estimate.

Now, with all the numbers known, several jurors are rethinking their position. District 6 Juror Glenn Scriber and District 11 Juror Sharyon Mayfield — both of whom voted against the city’s offer in July — said Friday they

See MAYOR RESPONDS, page 5 want to talk to the city again.

But Walker said Ruston won’t return unless all 12 jurors vote to ask it to do so. He said the jury’s rejection of the city’s offer — one the ambulance committee recommended the jury take — was a slap in the committee’s face.

Walker rejected oft- heard claims that the city pulled out of the running.

“We didn’t pull out. The police jury voted us out,” he said.

For 30 years, the Ruston Fire Department has been providing both EMS and rescue service parishwide. And for each of those years, the jury has paid only $30,000 toward the cost that the city says has increased multi-fold.

Long before the jury rejected Ruston’s one-time $645,604 offer for 2023, a long-term proposal from the city for $120,000 plus 5% each year had been on the table for months, unbeknownst to most jurors.

Jury President Richard Durrett never brought the plan to the full jury.

“Some ( jurors) are saying ‘we didn’t know the facts,’” Walker said. “That’s not our fault. That’s their own leadership’s fault.”