AMITE —The Tangipahoa Parish Council voted to seek State Bond Commission approval to place before parish voters a half-cent sales tax proposition dedicated to improving the parish jail system.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards asked the council during its meeting Monday to act quickly so the commission could handle the item during its June meeting in time to put the proposition on the Oct. 19 ballot.

Although the council agreed unanimously to forward the proposal to the commission, Councilman Nicky Muscarello said if the issue eventually is brought to the voters, he will work to get the tax defeated.

“I’m opposed to any more taxes,” Muscarello said. “What we are telling people is, ‘Don’t bring your business to Tangipahoa Parish.’ Let’s explore other options.”

Muscarello contended that the addition of the half-cent tax would raise Tangipahoa Parish’s sales tax rate to 9.5cents on the dollar.

“I’m not in favor of taxes either,” the sheriff said, “but I don’t want to turn criminals loose on the public because we cannot properly keep then in jail.”

Edwards added, “The only wrong thing we can do is to do nothing. It’s time for the people to make a decision on whether or not they want an adequate jail … whether or not they want to see criminals kept off the streets.”

Edwards said that his primary responsibility is to house inmates convicted of crimes in the parish.

The half-cent tax, if voters approve, would be levied for 30 years, bringing in about $8.67 million per year to be used for renovation and enlargement of the existing parish jail, or replacing it with a new facility if that would be more cost-effective.