Mancuso requests renewal of property tax millage

June 10, 2009 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

*published June 10, 2009

Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso on Tuesday expressed his support in writing for the renewal of a 10-year property tax millage.

The tax, which is to expire at the end of the year, will also be rolled back by $9 million, Mancuso said.

Sharon Cutrera, Sheriff’s Office chief financial officer, said the cutback would be offset by the half-cent sales tax approved in 2006.

The property tax accounts for about 25 percent of the sheriff’s revenue, according to the state Legislative Auditor’s Office.

Lake Charles resident Charlie Atherton worried the renewal vote could have a negative effect on a separate tax to be presented by the Police Jury to fund jail and courthouse improvements.

“I don’t think many people realize these taxes are separate,” Atherton said. “If they (residents) vote it down, you suffer.”

Mancuso said he is presenting the renewal request now because his department does not want to let the millage expire and have to present it as a new tax later.

“I would rather not have to put this (the renewal) out there right now,” Mancuso said.

Rob McCorquodale, Sheriff’s Office legal counsel, said there is a certain timeline to get the request to the state bond commission by September, which is why he must turn in the paperwork before the end of the week.

Mancuso said an approval of the jail and courthouse improvement tax would add a pod of single-bed cells to the jail and increase the number of intake beds from 60 to 100.

He said that now prisoners who need to be separated have to be put in two-bed cells, taking up extra space.

The half-cent tax has been used to increase deputies’ yearly pay to about $30,000, which includes the state supplemental pay, update the department’s technology, and pay for equipment for deputies and the jail.

Mancuso said the technology included connecting all sections with one computer system and installing laptops and cameras in deputies’ vehicles.

The department-provided equipment for deputies includes rig belts, bulletproof vests, Tasers and guns.

“Before this tax, all we could give them was a shirt, a pair of pants and boots,” Mancuso said.

He said the pay increase accounts for about $8 million of the roughly $16 million the Sheriff’s Office gets from the tax.

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