Sheriff Jason Ard

Sheriff Jason Ard speaks with the media on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, about Dennis Perkins, a former lieutenant in the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office who is currently facing five dozen counts of child pornography and two counts of first-degree rape, among other charges.

The sheriff is looking to turn a current financial burden, into a financial gain.

Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard recently released a public notice that his office intends to borrow, via bond issuance, $8 million for a new facility on land owned by his department in Walker.

Near the Woodside Landfill, 20 acres currently go mostly unused by the sheriff's office. Two double-wide trailers, a small shooting range, and a warehouse for mock drug bust practice sit on a small portion of the acreage. 

Not only is the land underutilized, Ard said, it continues to shrink in the face of a growing sheriff's department that is hustling to meet the demand of a rapidly expanding Livingston Parish.

The double wide trailers pose a maintenance problem by themselves.

"I think we've replaced the floor in one of them nine times," Ard explained, "there's just a lot of foot traffic buildings like that weren't meant to take.

"And if I have to replace another air conditioning unit on one of them I'm going to scream."

The sheriff said a new building would remove those recurring air conditioning costs, as well as provide two areas that would save the department "quite a bit of money," the sheriff said - gym memberships, and training requirements that become more strict every year.

"Our manual requires our officers who go into the field and patrol the streets to be physically fit," Ard explained, "but right now we have no central location for a fitness facility - so we pay (those officers') gym memberships.

"This building would get that off of our books."

That savings alone would almost cover the bond payment, Ard explained, but it's not the largest expense the sheriff's office would shed.

According to the sheriff, training requirements for all officers increase every year - and so do the costs. Ard said the department has to cover all of the usual travel expenses - including mileage, room and board, as well as the cost of the training itself - because they those training sessions become either a state or federal requirement.

In building the facility, the sheriff creates a home base for training to remove all of the travel expenses. He can then bring training sessions to Livingston, giving the department a chance to host training sessions and making money toward the bond payment on that turn around, by inviting nearby departments to come to the new location.

Ard isn't sure, as of yet, how far the $8 million will go in terms of size of the building and campus. That dollar figure was chosen, he said, because that was the monetary amount he and his leadership team believed the sheriff's office could afford.

The facility would be constructed, as well, to house up to 300 in the event of a disaster or emergency. Ard recalled his time during Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav, wherein he slept in his truck for nearly three weeks in both instances.

According to the sheriff, a public hearing on the building will be held before the bonds are issued, and his office is ready to receive public input.

Input from local officials has been positive so far, the sheriff said, and he intends for the facility to have one other benefit that he believes will be of benefit to Livingston Parish Public Schools.

"We can't hold a Denham, Live Oak, or Walker graduation," the sheriff laughed, "but this facility would definitely be able to handle graduations for some of the smaller schools."

The sheriff said he had discussed the possibility with several smaller schools, including Holden and Doyle, and the principals had "loved the idea."

"I know there's a push to keep these graduations local, not just because they love their parish, but because they also have to pay to go somewhere else," Ard said, "this (new facility) would help with that problem."

(2) comments

CajunJedi

Sure, what’s wrong another $8,000,000 debt on the books when we can get those pesky gym membership fees off of our back.

kellifae1

This makes sense.

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