CLINTON — With early voting on tax renewals scheduled to begin Saturday, East Feliciana Parish police jurors ran headlong into unexpected opposition Tuesday from a municipal leader about one of the propositions.
Slaughter Mayor Robert Jackson told the jury he objects to the formula by which revenues from a 1-cent sales tax, which would be dedicated to road improvements and maintenance, is divided among the parish and five municipalities.
A 10-year renewal of that sales tax is on the Dec. 6 ballot as the third Police Jury proposition. The jury also is seeking renewal of two other sales taxes totaling 1 percent that funds parishwide garbage collection. Those propositions are the first and second on the ballot, and the fourth is a proposed renewal of a 3-mill property tax for the parish Health Unit.
Jackson said the population formula by which the road revenues are divided is flawed. Slaughter gets only $7,000 to $9,000 per month from the tax, but sends more than that to the parish from local sales.
“I cannot blacktop a road with a $7,000 or $9,000 — or sometimes $11,000 — check,” Jackson said.
“We can’t either. We have to save up money to do them,” Juror Larry Beauchamp replied.
The Slaughter mayor said the jurors should have held a meeting with mayors of the five municipalities before putting the issue on the ballot.
Clinton Mayor Lori Bell attended the meeting, but did not speak to the jury.
Jury President Louis Kent and other jurors agreed that the population breakdown by which the money is divided does not correspond to the 2010 census figures, but they said the proper thing to do is to rededicate the tax, if it passes Dec. 6, in a special election next fall.
Under the formula adopted years ago, the village of Wilson gets 3.9892 percent of the revenues to Slaughter’s 3.8181 percent, although Slaughter’s 2010 population was 9,977 and Wilson’s was 595.
Parish Manager J.R. Rouchon said four of the five municipalities will lose money if the formula is adjusted, while the Police Jury would gain revenue.
Kent said the jury cannot do anything at this point to change the formula, which is spelled out in the ballot proposition.
“If you’re saying there’s nothing we can do about it, we have a vote,” Jackson said.
Jurors said they will invite municipal officials to a 4:30 p.m. Nov. 25 Finance Committee meeting to discuss the pros and cons of adjusting the formula.
The Police Jury also sent a request from Coroner Laura DeJohn to rent an office for her from retired Judge William F. Kline for $500 per month.
Beauchamp said the Building Committee also is looking at providing space for DeJohn in an unused portion of the Voter Registrar building or the Health Unit.
DeJohn won a special election Nov. 4 to finish the term begun by her husband, Dr. Michael DeJohn, who died earlier this year.