Calcasieu officials tout tax renewals

September 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

In a Monday night town hall hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce, Calcasieu Parish police jurors and parish officials outlined two tax renewals that will be on the Oct. 2 ballot.

One is a 1.5-cent sales tax that covers road improvements and garbage collection in Wards 2-8. The second is a property tax that pays for courthouse and jail maintenance.

District 4 Police Juror Claude Syas and Parish Administrator Bryan Beam outlined some of the services the two taxes cover, including the parish health unit and mosquito control.

“There are a lot of things in the city limits that these dollars build and maintain,” Beam said.

One project about to be completed is the Allen P. August multipurpose annex, which will be open in about a month.

The building, on the corner of Moeling and North Prater streets, will house the Food for Seniors program, which provides groceries once a month, said Randy Vincent with the Office of Community Services.

He said the project was started by Elcie Guillory when he was a state representative.

“After taking advantage of some capital gains funds, the Police Jury matched the funds to start the project,” Vincent said.

District 9 Police Juror Kevin Guidry directed the attendees’ attention to the property tax renewal, saying the cost would be low regardless.

“If you’re home is worth less that $75,000, you’re exempt. For $100,000, you’d pay $8.18 a year, or 68 cents per month,” Guidry said.

“So we’re not out to break anyone. We know times are hard, but we also need you to understand the important services you’re paying for.”

Attendees’ questions and comments varied.

North Lake Charles resident John Nash said many people don’t know that the two taxes are renewals — not new taxes.

“Taxes is something we don’t like, and it’s something I have to deal with as a business owner,” Nash said. “You have to look at all the services that are provided. These are things we need on a daily basis.”

Another resident expressed concern about a lack of minority contractors and workers on various projects.

District 3 Police Juror Elizabeth Griffin said all pro–jects are subject to state laws that regulate the bidding process, and that the Police Jury can’t change them.

Griffin said she watches the issue closely and tries to make sure minority contractors are state- and locally certified — a requirement to bid on any project.

“I have walked multiple minority contractors through the process and am currently working with others,” she said. “But it will always be the contractors’ responsibility to come to me and ask for help and stick with the process.”

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