DayeTime: Oops, 3 votes instead of one

Three-part 'solid waste' tax turned into three separate propositions

This is for all of those who have been saying, “I’d vote for the Police Jury’s solid waste tax if it was just a renewal of the 1-cent sales tax, but I can’t vote for it if the 8-mill property tax is included.”

Due to a “miscommunication” between the Police Jury and the Bond Commission in Baton Rouge, the three-part solid waste tax proposition on the Dec. 8 ballot will be three separate tax propositions instead of one proposition.

That means that instead of casting one “yes” or “no” vote to decide the fate of a tax proposition, you will have to cast three votes.

So you can vote for renewals of 3/4-cent of sales tax dedicated to supporting the parishwide solid waste collection/disposal program and 1/4-cent of that sales tax dedicated to parishwide road and bridge maintenance and vote against the 8-mill property tax that would cost most homeowners about $8-10 a year.

Or you could vote for all three or against all three or any other division of your three votes.

Some will say this isn’t the way the tax proposition was SUPPOSED to be presented. Others can counter that maybe this is the way it was MEANT to be presented.

I’m not going to endorse or oppose the Dec. 8 taxes.

I will say that approving the renewal is necessary for the parishwide solid waste program to continue. I will also agree that approving the 8-mill property tax is a good way to provide a little extra working capital to give the parish a chance to get out from under a financial weight that is only going to get heavier every time the contract is renewed.

Unfortunately, the sales tax collections appear to be declining at a time when the cost for services supported by that sales tax is rising.

The Police Jury has a plan -- or at least a plan to make a plan -- that would put more of the solid waste collection and disposal program in its control.

That includes constructing a waste transfer station at the Parish Barn in Mansura that would allow it to split the collection part of the contract into residential collection and hauling from the Barn to the landfill.

It also includes signing a long-term contract with a public landfill to control disposal cost.

There have been comments that the Police Jury should ask the Legislature to raise the local sales tax ceiling so it can ask for another 1/4-cent or 1/2-cent sales tax for the parishwide solid waste program.

If the 1-cent sales tax renewal passes by an 80-20 percent vote, that might be evidence the public is willing to pay more sales tax for this service.

If the result is more like 55-45 in favor, or a defeat of the renewal, then it is a good indicator that another part-of-a-penny sales tax is a non-starter.

As I said, it may be for the best that there was a miscommunication in how the proposition is to appear on the ballot. This will give voters a chance to say, with certainty, whether they want the parish to continue to pay for parishwide garbage pickup and disposal through a tax or if they believe it is time for each household to pay for its own collection individually.

One opinion I will share is that if the Police Jury is going to continue a tax-supported solid waste program, it certainly needs to take whatever steps it can to control future costs.

If our tax revenues were able to keep up with inflation in the cost to provide services, the jury could “let it ride” and just worry about future tax renewals -- which are a lot easier to pass than new taxes.

Unfortunately, neither sales nor property taxes seem to be keeping pace with inflation.

In the case of sales taxes, I’m afraid too many pennies are being spent with merchants north and south of Avoyelles Parish.

Property values are not increasing significantly and no new developments are popping up to add new properties to the tax rolls.

If the income does not keep up with the increase, then you have to increase the income -- which means more taxes.

I’m afraid that’s where we are right now with the solid waste tax.

We can approve the jury’s request and have a shot at maintaining the public collection/disposal program into the future, vote against all three and end it next year, or approve the renewal and defeat the new 8-mill property tax and hope there will be enough to renew the contract in a few years.

It is an important decision and one of the things that makes this country the greatest nation that EVER existed is that WE get to make that decision.

I won’t tell you how to vote, but I will tell you that you should vote.

Don’t let the guy next door make the decision for you.

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