LIVINGSTON – Town of Livingston Mayor David McCreary announced on July 12 that the town will be able to hire a new full-time police officer when it meets in August.
Police Chief Randy Dufrene began asking in November 2017 for the mayor and the Board of Aldermen to consider hiring two additional police officers to help with the amount of calls the department receives.
McCreary said in December 2017 that the town could not afford to hire more people at that time, but he would see if there was money available after sales taxes collections during June 2018.
The mayor said he met with CPA Bruce Harrell, who prepares the town’s budget, on Friday and learned that the budget now shows a surplus. There are several new businesses in town that helped generate the surplus, including a Burger King on La. Hwy. 63.
The mayor said one of his main priorities is the safety of the town’s residents. “My family lives here, my grandchildren live here, and I care about the safety and welfare of our citizens,” McCreary said.
“You’ve spent your whole career in Livingston,” he told Dufrene. “Nothing ever happens in Livingston. We don’t have any real crime.”
“That’s because we have a good police department,” Dufrene interjected, and Alderman Jessie “Dusty” Glascock agreed.
The mayor recommended hiring Dustin Hinson, who he said was doing a great job as a part-time officer. He added that Hinson is certified to handle both traffic issues and fatality investigations, among other duties.
After giving his monthly police department report, which included 269 calls, 73 tickets, 34 offense reports, seven crashes and two narcotics arrests, Dufrene said there were several vehicle burglaries under investigation in the Red Oak Road area.
He also asked the board to consider using American Municipal Services, a collection company that will go back 12 years to collect money from old warrants for the police department. The company will not charge a specific fee for their service but will retain a portion of whatever money the department collects as a result. Dufrene added that the company also does other collections like utilities, which could be beneficial to the town.
In other business, the board heard from Livingston Fire Chief Kirk Duffy and Springfield Fire Chief Brian Drury regarding the town’s water supply and how it affects the fire rating.
“Water supply for a fire department is 40 percent of the total rating,” Duffy said, adding that the fire department itself accounts for 50 percent while the communication system is the other 10 percent. Drury said fire hydrants count for one-fourth of water supply percentage.
Thanks to some new fire regulations, the town must check the flow of all hydrants regularly to determine how many gallons per minute they can pump. Drury has been inspecting the Livingston hydrants and noticed that a many of the older ones have several gaskets that need to be replaced to maintain good flow.
After all hydrants are performing adequately, Drury will inspect 20 percent of the town’s hydrants every year. The fire rating is reevaluated every five years, so there should be no major problems with these regular inspections.
Drury said he will also map out every hydrant in town for future reference. Duffy said the list consists of 176 hydrants in town, but that does not include the ones outside of the town limits, such as areas south of Interstate 12. Those hydrants do not affect the town’s fire rating.
In other news, McCreary also discussed the need for an additional sewer plant to accommodate the growth in the southern portion of the town, which includes the Lakewood Estates subdivision, EPIC Piping and the Pepsi distribution center.
The Red Oak wastewater plant is more than 40 years old and was built to serve 500 homes. It is currently being used for approximately 550 homes. He said any new sewer plant would have to be expandable to accommodate any more growth in the town.
McCreary has spoken to Mark Harrell, the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (OHSEP) director, about the possibility of getting a grant, but that process could take a year and it would probably not cover 100 percent of the cost. Estimates for the total cost are between $1.5 and $2 million.
“It’s either going to be 75-25 or, if we’re lucky, we could get an 80-20,” McCreary said, meaning the town would have to contribute 20-25 percent of that total.
He is also researching a low-interest loan from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).