Voters head to the polls Saturday in select Louisiana parishes, picking a new state representative in the southern part of East Baton Rouge Parish and deciding possible sales tax increases in West Baton Rouge Parish and Zachary.
Gonzales voters also will vote in a City Council contest, selecting among three Gonzales residents to fill a seat on the five-member panel, as well as considering a tax renewal for the fire department. If no candidate in the City Council race receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will head to a May runoff.
The state House of Representatives District 66 race has Metro Councilman “Buddy” Amoroso against former Metro Councilman Darrell Ourso. The office became vacant when former Rep. Hunter Greene ran a successful campaign to become a family court judge. The winner of the Saturday election will serve out the remaining nine months of Greene’s term.
In Iberville Parish, a library tax renewal is on the ballot, while St. Gabriel voters will consider candidates for mayor and the council.
The two new sales taxes on the ballot are both sales tax increases. In West Baton Rouge, Sheriff Mike Cazes is asking voters for a half-cent sales tax that would bring the parish’s sales tax to 9.5 percent.
Cazes has said he would have to reduce services and certain programs without the additional $2.9 million that would be raised by the tax, saying the kind of programs potentially on the chopping block are security patrols at local schools and traffic details. The Tea Party of Louisiana has questioned whether the new tax is truly needed, while Dow Louisiana Operations, a major employer in the parish, asked employees to vote against the increase.
The Sheriff’s Office does not have a dedicated sales tax but does receive about $6.3 million annually from a 16.1-mill property tax.
Zachary voters also will decide the fate of a sales tax hike, but that one would be directed to the school system. The Zachary School Board is asking for a 1-cent dedicated sales tax, although school officials say they intend to only collect 75 percent of the tax. That would generate $3.3 million annually.
The new revenue would be directed to the schools’ operational costs. Superintendent Scott Devillier has said the money would help make up for cuts in state funding and rising insurance and retirement costs.
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday.