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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Voters to decide on more taxes

Voters to decide on more taxes

Voters in Lafourche will decide later this year whether or not to pay more taxes to support the parish’s inadequate Solid Waste fund.

Although some parish officials felt it was not necessary to go to the voters “again” for approval, since the tax was created by vote in 1985, the Louisiana Legislature granted voters the right to decide because some municipalities would be over the state’s 5-cent cap on sales tax if the measure passes.

For the past two years, the Solid Waste, or garbage fund, has been in the “red” and parish government has used over $1 million of the BP Fund to shore it up.

Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle has stated that Solid Waste is still $2.5 million short of the funds necessary to pay the 2018 garbage contract.

A 1985 vote of residents, except in Thibodaux, originally allowed a full penny of tax, but back then so much money was going into the Solid Waste Fund that the Council lowered it to the present seven-tenths.

After a little over 20 years the seven-tenths has become inadequate to support the present garbage contract.

At a March 2018 council meeting, Solid Waste Director Jerome Danos told the council that the three-tenths would be adequate to help cover the garbage cost for the next few years, but if the vote doesn’t pass, imposing a user fee would probably be the alternative source of funding.

At Tuesday’s council public meeting, members voted 8-1 without discussion to let voters decide.

Jerry Lafont, who has vowed to never vote for any “new” tax, was the lone dissenting vote.

Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said earlier this year that his administration feels the additional tax “should work” to cover the parish’s shortfall of $2.5 million and have little effect on the pocketbooks of citizens.

Three-tenths of a penny equals an additional 30 cents of sales tax on a $100 purchase and would be dedicated solely to the Solid Waste Fund.

The added tax would bring in about $2.7 million, he said.

Also, Cantrelle vowed to return parish workers to a 40-hour work week from the present 35-hour schedule they have had been reduced to since March.

“As soon as we start collecting it (the additional 3/10 tax), I’m gonna go back to the 40 hours,” Cantrelle promised in March.

According to the ordinance, an estimated $8.5 million is “reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the full one percent (1%) of the tax for an entire year”.

The election will be held on November 6, 2018.